[pullquote cite=”” type=”left, right”][amazon text=Amazon&template=carousel&chan=That Film Guy&asin=B0000649JX][/pullquote] Forget American Pie or even the The Inbetweeners Movie, films which offer inclusivity by asking you to follow the exploits of teens who find themselves socially excluded. However uproariously funny, those movies give you an outsider’s perspective of adolescence whereas Terry Zwigoff’s adaptation of the comic Ghost World is a teen movie with a difference.
It follows Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) two graduates who are suddenly plunged into the world beyond high school and left to wander the listless desert of adulthood. The desert being an unnamed American city, whose once colourful buildings and faded fifties diners give the film its ghostly feeling and sense of lost momentum.
Enid and Rebecca fill their disconsolate days by tormenting their friend Josh who works at the local convenience store, criticizing their town and townsfolk as well finding new types of sport. In the paper they find a lonely hearts entry “ a man named Seymour who is trying to find a woman he met but was too coy to ask out at the time- and then proceed to stalk him. The lonely heart is Steve Buscemi who puts in an understated and brilliant turn as a mature soul who has come to accept his oddness, having entertained for years an unconventional interest in old records and obscure art. Mocking and stalking eventually turns into something more and Seymour and Enid begin to form a relationship.
At one point Enid says to him, ˜I don’t want to live in a world where a man like you can’t get a date.’ This pretty much sums up the whole film. Enid doesn’t want to live in a world where her Dad’s girlfriend is obsequiously nice to her, where art teachers look for social meaning in everything and can’t appreciate art for art’s sake, where her best friend wants to work in Starbucks, buy nice clothes and new things for their new flat.
The film’s subtext seems to say ˜It’s a confusing and often alienating world’ and Terry Zwigoff’s real accomplishment is making the audience constantly feel that there is an elephant in the room, and only the viewer, Enid and to some extent Rebecca, are able to see it. Enid and Rebecca are an odd mix of childish and cynical, petty as well as intelligent and astute. It works because the adult world is stupid; unfathomable to the point of being surreal.