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USA 2002
Directed by
Terry Zwigoff
111 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars

Ghost World

Synopsis: Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), just graduated from high school, are best friends and share a stance of disaffection from all around them. As a practical joke they answer an ad in a Personals Column and so meet Seymour (Steve Buscemi) a dag and collector of 78 rpm blues records. Enid decides to help Seymour get his life together but finds that her own is unravelling.

Director Terry Zwigoff, known hitherto for his marvellous documentary Crumb about '60s underground cartoonist Robert Crumb, is well-qualified for his first feature, a transposition to the big screen of a comic series by Daniel Clowes, who like Crumb, takes his pen to America's consumer culture and its ideology. (Zwigoff, is like Seymour, a collector of old timey music and has made no secret that the Buscemi character is based on himself). What is most rewarding about the outcome is not the satirical portrayal of mainstream USA, for, after all, that is done is one way or another in virtually every teen movie, but the way it combines the outrightly comic with a portrayal of Seymour, a forty-ish dork who, thanks to his involvement with the self-preoccupied world of the teenage girls, at least briefly, finds a little love in his life.

With an entertaining script from co-writers Clowes and Zwigoff, the film starts out pretty much as the conventional teen comedy albeit against a very Crumb-like landscape of losers and misfits, power lines and advertising billboards and then settles down concentrates on the lives of Enid and Seymour. These two fish out of water are nicely portrayed by Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi, and are excellently supported by a fine cast, including Scarlett Johansson as Enid's buddy, Bob Balaban as her lamely ordinary father, an anorexic-looking Illeanna Douglas as the art teacher,a chronic devotee of artspeak, and a brief appearance from a nearly unrecognisable Terri Garr as Enid's loathed step-mother-to-be

Ghost World is a consistently amusing and endearing little film, a bit like Daria come to life, thoughtfully made, quirkily independent without straining for effect and nicely photographed.




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