Monday, October 26, 2009

Ghost World (2001)


Fresh out of high school, recent graduate Enid (Thora Birch) must attend one summer class in order to fulfill her graduation requirements. While trying to get a job in order to move in with her best friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), Enid's social alienation becomes more and more evident. In between job hunts she spends her time with new friend, Seymour (Steve Buscemi), an older gentleman, avid record collector, and struggling romantic who is also socially alienated.

Before there was Ellen Page ruling the social outcast teen girl world, Thora Birch held that esteemed title with films like Ghost World and American Beauty. As a film Ghost World is one that I enjoyed, but I know I should have enjoyed it more. Maybe I wasn't in the right attitude, maybe my expectations were off, but I found Ghost World to be a solid character study, with some funny moments, but I was never blown away. Great performances from Buscemi, Birch, and an underused Renfro saved me from dismissing the film entirely as I tried to find something truly amazing to latch on to.

Having been a socially alienated teen myself I found it rather easy to relate to Birch's Enid, but I never liked her, and struggled to care about her, despite the fact that she's the film's central character. Oddly, and what may be more sad, is that in Buscemi's lonely Seymour I found a character to latch onto, to care about, and to want to see how things unfold. Seymour is a rather typical character, but it's in Buscemi's unique look, attitude, and away of approaching things that I find him a really sentimental character. The scenes involving him and Birch are easily the film's highlight, and Zwigoff seems to understand how to get the most out of the film.

As a director Zwigoff seems far more concerned with the film's writing. He doesn't do much with the camera, puts it in place, and lets the writing do its job, and for the most part it does. The dialogue is witty, the situations at times hilarious, and all the while self aware. Even then Ghost World managed hold my interest throughout, but it never inspired the desire to see more. While I wanted to see where the story went I didn't have too, that powerful and ever gripping feeling was left void. As such I think the movie just never felt complete for me. The ending is interesting, open to interpretation, but I kind of have to say I wish they had ended it a minute earlier, I think that would have been a better ending. Though I can't say I fault it, the ending is just about what you'd expect from the movie, in that it matches the film's oblique tone.

Despite having all the elements in place I was never involved enough in Ghost World to care enough to truly feel a connection. So that despite being a solid film, and having a strong cult status, I enjoyed what I saw, but I didn't love it.

2 better thoughts:

The Mad Hatter said...

Solid actually reminded me that I haven't seen this movie in far too long.

Now for bonus marks, I double-dare you to seek out the graphic novel on which this was based. read it, and consider the vast differences in the adaptation.

nebular said...

I gave this movie 7 out of 10. Very much like you I thought it was good, but I didn't love it. It was too pretentious for my taste. Great review!

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