For over a decade now, comic book movies have been some of the highest grossing films to come out from Hollywood. What started out as a fad has become it’s own genre. Over the next few months, I’m going to be delving into each movie individually to try and find out what it is that’s made them a mainstay in modern Hollywood.
Release Year: 2001
Director: Terry Zwigoff
Writer: Terry Zwigoff & Daniel Clowes
Starring: Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi.
Ghost World is an indie comedy drama from 2001. It’s based on a comic by Daniel Clowes, who collaborated with writer and director Terry Zwigoff on the films screenplay. It follows the lives of two mopey teenage girls, Enid and Rebecca, who have just graduated high school and must now move onto the next part of their lives. Along the way Enid, played by Thora Birch, befriends a recluse music collector Seymour, who is played by Steve Buscemi. What starts out as Enid taking pity on Seymour turns into a close friendship as the two discover that even though there’s a considerable age difference, they have more in common with each other than their peers.
I’ve never read Ghost World. I checked to see if it was available on ComiXology so I could read it before writing this, but it’s not on there. So I can’t fairly comment on the differences between the comic and the film. I’d also never seen the film until watching it for this blog.
It’s a pretty good film, and what you’d expect from a coming of age indie movie. The main focus to begin with is the friendship between Enid and Rebecca. Rebecca is played by a rather young looking Scarlett Johansson, who turns out to be the more sensible one of the pair. Enid seems more stuck in her adolescence. She struggles with keeping jobs because she doesn’t want to work for “the man”, and even goes as far as dying her hair green for a 1976 punk rock look. It’s little like that view you have as a teenager when you think you know everything about the world, but you don’t because you haven’t quite grown up yet. You’re still viewing everything through the clouded safety of adolescence. Rebecca manages to keep her job and pesters Enid throughout the movie to move out and get an apartment with her. She seems more comfortable with letting go of her high school teenage years and moving into adult hood.
And then the two discover an advertisement in the paper from a lonely man trying to reconnect with a woman he once had a short lived moment with. Seymour is played brilliantly by Steve Buscemi, who is at his ‘given up on life’ best. He struggles socially and spends most of his time collecting old music records.
Enid and Rebecca decide to respond to Seymour’s advertisement in the paper and set him up on a blind date. From then on, at first out of pity, they follow him around and become a part of his life.
It’s Enid who becomes close to Seymour. She feels like she’s losing Rebecca since finishing high school, so Seymour becomes her new friend. And then the film just plays out their relationship together. Enid tries to set Seymour up on several dates until she eventually realises she feels something for him herself.
I think the film as a whole captures really well that time in your life when you’ve just left high school and you’re moving into adulthood. It never tries to be too over ambitious, instead it’s a more quiet approach to things. It doesn’t have the pop music soundtrack that most films like this have. Music is used very little for the soundtrack. When it is used, it usually reflects the taste of either Seymour and Enid. Seymour is into old style Jazz, while Enid is currently going through a punk phase.
It’s a cute film with a few moments of quirkiness to it, but it became more a cult film than a box office hit because it doesn’t have that main stream appeal to it (This happens a lot with comic book movies that don’t have superheroes in them). I’d never seen it before I watched it for my blog (and as I said at the beginning – I nearly forgot about it).
It’s available on Netflix in the UK and should be easy enough to find on DVD.