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Ghost World (2000)

Accentuate the negative.

Starring:

Bob Balaban

Brad RenfroBrad Renfro

Brian George

Charles C. Stevenson Jr.

Dave Sheridan

Debra Azar

Illeana Douglas

Pat Healy

Rini Bell

Scarlett JohanssonScarlett Johansson

Stacey Travis

Steve Buscemi

T.J. Thyne

Teri Garr

Thora Birch

Tom McGowan

Directed by:

Terry Zwigoff

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 111 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: Germany, United Kingdom, United States

Remember how there was always that small group of kids at school who would turn their noses up at anyone who wanted to actually DO anything? Well ‘Ghost World’ is about two of them – Enid and Rebecca (Thora Birch and a verge-of-world-domination Scarlett Johansson) – and what happens when graduation’s over and it’s time to face everyday society.

For Rebecca, it looks like those carefree days of sitting around the local coffee shop scowling at enthusiastic types are swiftly coming to an end. She’s got herself a job, is looking for a place to live, and has even managed to find some new friends. All of which means it’s loose end time for Enid, who’s Hell-bent on clinging desperately to her life of self-imposed emptyness.

Swiftly, Enid – with her ironic punk fashion sense, love of ridiculously-obscure Indian music, and brief fascination with gimp masks – becomes the main focus of the story. In a turn of events involving a personal ad and one of the crueller pranks you’ll see, she teams up with leather-skinned record geek Seymour (Steve Buscemi). At first, he’s a figure of fun, then a figure of sympathy, but it’s not long before all of that subsides to make way for friendship and perhaps even the early stages of an unlikely romance.

Based on a little-known series of comic books by Daniel Clowes (note his name is an anagram of the main character’s – Enid Coleslaw), this is a strangely-likable film, devoid of any real occurrences, but thoughtful, original and witty in its execution. Enid’s deep discomfort with joining regimented society and all that that entails will strike a chord with many a school-leaver, and it’s hard to imagine anyone capturing that better than Birch. Her performance is memorable and hits the nail right on the head, whilst the casting of Buscemi is a similar masterstroke. His character doesn’t have the chiselled looks or biting wit we’ve come to associate with the archetypal Hollywood love interest: on the contrary, he finds the general public impossible to relate to, and looks like a lizard. Is there an actor alive more suited to that role than Buscemi? If so, I’ve yet to come across him.

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It's Got: A prime example of how NOT to keep your job at the local cinema’s hot dog kiosk.

It Needs: To be seen by all familiar with the pangs of teen disaffection.

DVD Extras Three featurettes (looking behind the scenes of both the film and the original comic strip), TV & radio spots, some stills and a trailer. DVD Extras Rating: 6/10

Alternatives:

American Beauty, Trees Lounge

Summary

Funny and intelligent in equal measure, this was one of the best, most under-stated movies of the year 2001.

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