It's pretty easy to fall into the trap of associating a particular genre
or medium with a specific set of qualities. When I was first told that
Ghost World was based on a comic book by Daniel Clowes, I immediately
thought "oh, not another Batman, Superman, or Spawn". The urge to
categorize something simply because it fits a particular pre-defined mold
in your mind can lead to adverse reactions, twitching facial expressions,
and an urge to say "No, I don't want to see that superhero shit!"
I almost fell into the same trap. But there are no superheros in Ghost
World. In fact, this movie is so far from the male masochistic
unrealistic Batman special effects laden hollywood tripe that I was
The film starts off at a slow pace, but each scene is filled with smart
humor and the character's personalities materialize before you as people
you've known throughout high school. Or maybe, this WAS you in high
school. No, don't fear. I'm not talking about American Pie
characters.. I'm talking real characters that you can relate to.
The plot doesn't really kick in until a third into the movie, and even
then it isn't a plot driven movie. Basically this is a story about two
girls who graduate from high school and they're struggling to find footing
in the real world. They're best friends, but once they leave the comforts
of high school, they start drifting away. It's basically a coming of age
movie about living in the world today, where everything is so
depersonalized and corporate and everybody looks the same. Sounds
cliche? I know it does, but the movie does a perfect job of avoiding that
by making its point real and honest.
I found many things intriguing about this film. I loved seeing the world
through the skeptical, yet caring, eyes of Enid (Thora Birch), and to a lesser degree,
Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson). I loved seeing their relationship develop after high
school... I feel I could really relate to what Enid has gone through. She
feels she needs to hold on to this idealism. She wanders lost in the
"real world" trying to find something or someone genuine, something that
is totally uncool in this hip world. I liked how the stereotypical
characters in this movie were developed so they surpassed those
stereotypes. I loved the acting. Thora Birch was wonderful, very
convincing... and Steve Buscemi was EXCELLENT. and last of all, I loved
the ending (although many will probably disagree with me). It is the
perfect ending for a movie that raises so many questions.
Also, the direction is perfect. The attention to detail, and to the
composition of the screen is something that would make me watch this film
again and again. The colors are vibrant and happy. The familiar-ness
of the corporate logos that are plastered all across this imaginary
town makes for an interesting colorful-yet-bleak edge that the
characters seem trapped in...
On the negative side, the first part of the movie did drag along a bit and
employed a few too many cheap laughs. Some characters were un-necessary
(although they were quite funny). And some of the beginning parts did
read like small episodes in a comic book instead of a movie. But once the
movie built enough steam, it lost that episodic quality.
Another small minor gripe I had was... well it's not actually a gripe.. I
guess I am just unsure about the casting of Thora Birch as this geeky
weird girl who doesn't fit in, bla bla bla. I mean, in American Beauty
she was cast in a role with some of the same characteristics.. Both
characters were rebellious, unhappy, and didn't fit in.
I have no problem with Thora Birch herself. The problem is that she is
too beautiful, too ideal, too (physically) well developed, too unlikely to
be the geeky girl you know who REALLY felt like an outsider. The problem
I see isn't that the film isn't convincing, but that the audience
WOULDN'T have been convinced if it were anybody unattractive. In a way,
this makes me even more sad about the real outsiders.
Sorry about the rant. Anyway, this movie is funny yet smart, depressing
yet hopeful, cynical yet caring. Don't miss this movie, it's a gem, and
the best movie I've seen thus far this year.