Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ghost World

By s. Sunday, October 9, 2011 , , , , , ,
(111 min, 2001)
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Writers: Daniel Clowes (comic book), Daniel Clowes
Stars: Steve Buscemi, Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson

“Some people are ok, mostly I just feel like poisoning everybody. “

There is a list of films I have to see before I die, just because I want to find out what all the fuss is about. “Ghost World” was on that list until yesterday, but I finally managed to watch it. I saw some interesting photos from it, I noticed how excellent reviews were and that it has Scarlett Johansson in it. I also noticed it is labeled as “comedy” on imdb and I could use some laughter right now. Boy, did I end up disappointed.

Set in the summer after graduation, Enid (Thora Birch from “American Beauty” )and Rebecca (Johansson) are both outsiders in a world slowly being engulfed by fake 50's diners and Starbucks. Enid must attend an art class to officially graduate high school as Rebecca gets a job. When the two play a mean joke on a much older, geeky record collector (the one and only Steve Buscemi), Enid finds a fellow soul and begins to discover the complexities of becoming an adult in the modern world.

Don't get me wrong – the movie is funny. But it's not my kind of humor – I don't like dry humor and when I type “don't like” I'm using big euphemism. I could never fall in love with Wes Anderson's movies because of that and it's because of the same reason I can't like “Ghost World”. For me, if dry humor is involved there should be a huge warning on DVD box.

However, the movie has very smart and original script and creates fantastic, complex characters. It's also something I'm sure most of us relate too – we had best friend in high school and we promised to her/him nothing will change, but as our lives go on we slowly drift apart from each other. It's inevitable, it's the way it is. It's also only after high school that our life, just ours and nobody else's, begins. We are often lost, confused, scared, doing stupid things – just like Enid. The movie shows us three kinds of people – Enid, who isn't sure what she wants, except for the fact she wants to be different but doesn't know she's an opportunist, Rebecca, who despite being a social outsider does all the things she is supposed to do – graduates from college, finds a job, looks for her own apartament and Seymour who never really grew up and only now starts too.

Enid is a main heroine of the story and Birch does an amazing job – the girl could be described as pathetic easily – she is fake conformist and opportunist. She lies to everybody, makes immature, stupid jokes, has no respect for anyone and anything. But that's just a horrible exterior – inside she is so helplessly lost, confused about every single thing in her world – her future, her friend, Seymour, her family, everyone around her. She is like a little kid – jealous about Seymour's girlfriend when they are just friends, careless about her actions and promises she makes. But comparing to all the other people, who don't even try to fight the fact that is obvious – how big of losers they are - she is kinda brave, in her own, flawed way.

Buscemi is very good as Seymour and it is a performance hailed by many as one of his best. He creates a memorable character, one you feel sorry for from the very beginning – the kind of man who you would never date but you wish someone will. He's a lot like Enid, lost, although living in his own reality, deeply unhappy and staying alive only because of this world he created for himself. “You think it's healthy to obsessively collect things? You can't relate to other people, so you fill your life with stuff... I'm just like all these other collector losers.” - Seymour's problem is actually that barely anyone can relate to him, he is stuck in the world of parties with guys like him, without girlfriends, meaningful jobs, were every day is exactly like previous one. In Enid he finds a true soul mate, but given that she is still in the process of evolving and growing up, it's only temporary.

Rebecca's character is not very well developed, except for the fact she is genuinely sad that she and Enid are drifting apart. Their friendship worked out in high school were two of them stood against entire world, but now in adult life, the little problems don't matter anymore and when responsibility is necessary there is no time for silly games.

The movie is based on graphic novel and it's the first film to be nominated for Oscar for adapted screenplay based on such work. The script is witty, funny and interesting, but the movie was a bit too pretentious and boring for me. Especially the ending – it's so far out and weird for the sake of being weird, I was disgusted. The movie should have ended when Enid leaves the hospital and says bye to Rebecca.

The film is definitely not worthy of the praise it is getting, except for the script and the performances. If you are not a fan of dry humor it will most likely bore you. But it's still worth watching because there aren't many movies like this, subtle and very sympathetic towards its characters.


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