Ghost World (2001, USA)

Ah, the unavoidable divergence after high school. Whoever was your best friend in high school, if you don’t make the same choices after graduation, be it college or similar work/location, you will most likely end up having more and more distance between her and yourself. That’s what slowly happens to the two young women in “Ghost World“. One of them gets a job in a coffee shop and moves out of her parents’ house. We never even shown her parents or their place, they are so out of the picture.

The other on the hand only gets her diploma with a condition of taking a remedial art class over the summer. When she tries to get a job she never manages to give up her attitude and character so she gets fired on her first day. Her meek father offers his (and his on/off girlfriend’s) help, but she refuses to be influenced. She thinks of moving out and I with his girlfriend, but cannot make a whole hearted decision. Meanwhile he befriends an older guy, who is an obsessive collector of old object, mostly records, but socially is a dork. The movie’s central theme is their friendship, who it transforms from a teenage prank to recognition of human values in an alien lifeform.

Why is this movie and the comic book it was made from called Ghost World? Two answers. First, the pop culture saturated world the girls live in leave them unattached and cold. The world of logos and brands are the ghosts of the world; they haunt us whether we want them or not. Scary, isn’t it? The second answer comes from the last scene of the movie (unless you count the one after the credits). The bus that not supposed to be in service any more comes, and takes the misfit girl, whose languor started to suffocate her, away to the distance over a bridge. Maybe this world is a ghost world and the real one comes when you are ready to leave it.

I liked the movie, although I probably didn’t get a lot of the hidden pop culture references, because I didn’t grow up in the US. But it was funny, the characters were engaging. It also helped that the two girls were played by beautiful actresses (Thora Birch and Scarlett Johansson) and the dork, played by Steve Buscemi, was self conscious and comfortable with his shortcomings. The music was fun too, both the punk rock variety and the oldtimer’s blues and ragtime. In short it had lot to offer, even if I feel I didn’t fully comprehend what it was about.

DVD @ Amazon.com.

This is a top 1000 movie.

IMDB’s summary: Enid and Rebecca are social outsiders who, after graduating from high school, play a mean prank on a middle-aged geek.
Trailer:

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