Ghost World Review

Lucy Cardigan has reviewed the theatrical release of Ghost World, due for theatrical release on the 13th November, starring Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi.

Dan Clowes’ graphic novel adaptation Ghost World stars American Beauty’s Thora Birch as Enid, a high school graduate daunted by the apparently un-blossoming potential of what lies before her; the rest of her life.

Enid, and best friend Rebecca (Scarlet Johansson), drive their lack of ambition around fake 50s diners and convenience stores. But Rebecca succumbs to normality, finding employment in a local coffee house, leaving Enid to reduce the real world with her cynicism alone. Not easy without a partner to bolster one’s snarling observations. That is, until she meets Seymour (Steve Buscemi) at a yard sale. A black Americana and blues fan (if I dare call it the blues), Enid finds appeal in Seymour, “he’s such a clue-less dork, he’s almost cool.”

But what Seymour doesn’t know is that their meeting was just part of a practical joke Enid and Rebecca hatched. Enid spies a personal ad in the paper, placed by Seymour. Intrigued at what sort of a person the ad would expose, Enid calls the number.

How much do I wish I was Enid? To live day by day cocooned oblivious one’s behaviour is causing so much distress in other’s lives; to be so self-unaware; to have such impeccable dress sense?

Thora and Rebecca shine in their respective roles. Each line, especially Enid’s, is delivered with such delayed sarcasm, that every put-down is perfectly weighted. But it is, perhaps expectedly, Buscemi who is brightest. His first scene, one which for him is dialogue free, reveals exactly what sort of character Seymour is. The anti-presence typifying a man ill-at-ease with his surroundings, wishing for anonymity, even invisibility. It’s never going happen, as Seymour’s every direction and line steals the screen throughout.

Mise en scène wholly duplicates Clowes’ comic; Thora’s black hair, bright white skin tones and over processed reds, blues and greens everywhere else sit beautifully against the backdrop of dirt-malls and dulled-chrome fronted diners. Director Terry Zwigoff is dealing with familiar territory, having handled comics already with 1994’s Crumb, and like Seymour, Zwigoff too is a hardy collector of blues and jazz 78s.

Ghost World doesn’t play nicely, its open-ending perhaps truer to its original print form than your average movie goer would appreciate. But the script and delivery here matter far more than the narrative, and in Ghost World, Zwigoff has created perfectly a movie for anyone that for no reason, ever hated anyone.

Lucy Cardigan

Updated: Oct 13, 2001

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