My Review of ‘Ghost World’ (2001)

I found this movie quite interesting. So interesting, in fact, that I decided to read the script. And reading the screenplay lent additional (and, IMHO, nearly essential) new levels of understanding to the whole business.

This is the problem with screenwriting and reviewing films. You end up wanting to read the screenplay for the movies you like or want to write like. That and you keep timing the appearance of the major plot points as you watch the film.

This is a coming-of-age black comedy about two girls who are outsiders by design. The kind who do everything they can to reject “normal” ways. However, one of them is the “real rebel” (Enid, played by Thora Birch) and the other is (in essence) a hanger-on and wannabe-but-not-really (Rebecca, played by Scarlett Johansson).

Image via filmfavore.

To put it in a nutshell, they end up meeting an older man who’s something of an oddball himself. And while Enid the Rebel makes fun of him at first, they end up bonding over old vinyl records of rhythm and blues artists from long ago.

However, this happens after Enid pulls a prank on the older man. One that, naturally, comes back to haunt her.

To make up for this, Enid goes about playing matchmaker for Seymour (a loner who rejects normality who’s played by Steve Buscemi, so of course he’d have a name like Seymour).

Image via Pinterest.

That’s one major storyline. The other one concerns Enid’s remedial art class. And her chance at an amazing opportunity. All because she must take a summer class in order to get her diploma and get on with her life. She chooses art because it will be easy. And yet it leads to … maybe somewhere. And the two storylines end up converging in a very interesting way.

Meanwhile, as the storylines converge, the two girls start to diverge onto different paths, drifting apart due to differences of opinion on the necessity of buying cool-looking sets of glassware and the ability to hold a job and pay a few bills. Maybe grow up. Get real.

Image via Arsenevich.

The real breaking point for the girls’ relationship is (ostensibly) over a guy. But, with or without the guy, I’m not sure this friendship could have been saved.

Image via Grunge Beatnik Grrl.

Here’s one thing I picked up from the screenplay. When I watched the movie, I hadn’t noticed how often whenever the girls made a rebellious or unusual move, Rebecca told Enid that she should be the one to make it.

For instance, at one point, the girls see an elderly man waiting at an old bus stop for an abandoned line. And when Enid the Rebel tells Rebecca the Normal they should ask him why he’s waiting for a bus that won’t come, Rebecca urges Enid to do the asking, because she’s “better at that stuff.” (Or words to that effect.) And then she does it again—at least one more time. It becomes painfully obvious that Rebecca is pragmatic where Enid is … well … not pragmatic.

Image via Cinematic Candy.

Of the ending, I will only say that it is inconclusive. Some have suggested it’s symbolic of suicide. I have another interpretation. Perhaps it means some people are willing to risk being different even if they don’t know exactly where that will take them.

And here’s the trailer!

Directed by Terry Zwigoff
Produced by Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, and Russell Smith
Screenplay by Daniel Clowes and Terry Zwigoff (based on the comic book of the same name by Daniel Clowes)

PS: Holy cow! 🙂 Look what I found!

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4 Responses to My Review of ‘Ghost World’ (2001)

  1. moviefanman says:

    Never seen this one, but reading about it reminded me of some of the weirder things I saw in high school, even though it came out a year before I started high school, so not exactly an inducement to ever see it. My first Scarlett Johansson experience was actually before I knew who she was. Back when we still had VHS rental places in the 90’s I rented the less than liked (at the time anyway) Home Alone 3. Scarlett Johansson played the typical older sister part who likes to pick on her little brother, but does show she really cares about him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debbi says:

      Have never seen any of the Home Alone movies. My first Scarlett Johansson experience was Lost in Translation, which I pretty much hated. Not due to Scarlett Johansson, who I think is awesome. Just not my favorite movie. This one was much better, anyway! 🙂


  2. Yup, just added this to my Must Watch list. I know I’ll like it.

    Liked by 1 person

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