ASay hello to Enid (Thora Birch), a recent high-school graduate who loathes 99% of humanity. The only exception to this detestation seems to be Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), her best friend. Sticking to reality and tackling this coming-of-age story with refreshingly dry wit, Ghost World explores how Enid and Rebecca attempt to understand the nuances of life after high school.
Ghost World is based on a graphic novel of the same name by Daniel Clowes. As a graphic novel enthusiast, I was astounded by the novel’s sharp and cynical take on a story about the transition to adulthood. Like any other bookworm, my vote goes to the graphic novel over the movie. But for a book that already has a cult status, the movie pretty much manages to keep up with that reputation and in the decade since the film’s release it has attained its own cult following. Director Terry Zwigoff developed the screenplay with Daniel Clowes aiming to appeal to teens going through similar situation as well as adults who might have experienced something similar at some point in their lives.
After their high-school graduation, Enid and Rebecca begin looking at apartments together, though, unlike Rebecca, Enid starts to lose interest in their childhood plan of living together. They engage in various shenanigans as they explore places and people around town. One such adventure involves an ad in the local newspaper placed by Seymour (Steve Buscemi), a guy in his 40’s who wants to meet the woman he saw earlier at a mall. They decide to mockingly respond to the ad. Surprisingly, Enid, typically harshly critical of every guy she has ever met, finds Seymour fascinating and starts spending time with him while drifting away from Rebecca.
The two things I personally love about this movie are the end and the music. With a not so run-of-the-mill finale, the movie stands up to its agenda of delivering a very real experience unlike other movies with fairytale happy ending. Coming back to the music, let me tell you, I am from India and I was never a fan of rock ‘n’ roll genre in the 50’s (ignoring the fact that I hardly knew it existed). But when the song “Jaan Pechaan ho” plays on the screen… it stays with you and rings in the ears all night long. It’s addictive! David Kitay put together a soundtrack that perfectly molds with the story, including Devil Got My Woman by Skip James. Enid is smitten by the song and plays it long enough for you to fall for it, too.
Ghost World features characters so real and relatable that you leave a part of you in the ghost world when the film ends. Illeana Douglas delivers an excellent performance as the hysterical art teacher and Brad Renfro craftily portrays a young lost boy who is always tormented by the two girls. It is a pleasant surprise to see how precisely and finely Daniel and Terry have developed each character in the story, no matter how small or insignificant.
Ghost World is an experience that you are missing out on if you haven’t read the graphic novel or watched the movie. I recommend doing both!!