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"ghost world" (2001) - terry zwigoff
posted on 5-Mar-2002 by anton

a piece below is a reflective account of emotions/thoughts after watching ghost world for the first time on a big screen. ideally one would read it after watching the movie, since it is not strictly a review.

i suppose one can call this a teenage film, a teenage comedy, but in a sense of the word that means completely different thing than the "teenage comedies" the audience is used to. i would not be the one to throw a stone at all those american pies or road trips of today, since i am guilty of watching them just like the rest of you, and i am not going to blindly trash them, jealously protecting my "inellectuality".

ghost world is a movie of a different kind. besides the fact that the characters in this film are a lot closer to me with their geekiness, their hobbies, their "out of this world" attitude, besides all that, the movie has a nice glow that comes from a mix of childishness, awkward moments, some peculiar kindness and thoughtfulness. take the main character that definitely has her own style of not fitting with the rest of the world. a lot of her is simply based on rejection. her hobbies, her behavior is mostly a reaction, a complete inverse of the current world around her. she even says that about buscemi's character, a complete opposite of everything she hates in a man. she listens to punk mostly because it is denying and angry, and... dead. at the same time somehow in this reversal she manages to find things that are truly genuine, not just negative reflection of reality.

is she escaping reality? or is she looking for the ghost worlds she is living in? does she realize that she has outgrown this world, or maybe left behind, when everything else is changing? is she going forward or backwards? does she even go anywhere?

one must wonder why she ended up with buscemi, obviously it was this kinky, sick interest at first, then it was shame and regret and pity, but he attracted her as a peculiar toy, someone unusual, warm, fuzzy, someone that is so genuinely different.

i guess i like the fact that it never works out, because it would be a terrible stretch to see it working out for two of them beyond being friends. she likes toys and unusual things, and he is just one of them. in a sense i am glad to see that he remains dysfunctional, not really changing, while she is learning and growing.

it has a lot of comedic moments, take the redneck guy with nunchucks, he was simply hilarious, getting the whole audience laughing. just imagine stick-like redneck wearing sneakers and cut-off jeans shorts and nothing else, featuring an impressive mullet and bouncing up and down incessantly, bursting with energy. or the ape-like theatre manager, or the typical gas station manager (simpsons flashbacks!).

it is funny that after watching almost famous, i see yet another obsessive music collector and recognize and adore his passion and methodical attitude. his carefully built collection where all the records are placed in special sleeves and are properly positioned between supports, 20 records at a time. his fascination with rarities and limited editions; i recognized so many things there, and i never was scared to see this aging collector, it was adorable, funny, interesting, a little sad, but never depressing.

i am not sure about the acting, both girls seem to act a little "staged," "playing" their parts, acting "cool" and distant. some of the jokes and their attitude overall at the beginning of the movie was simply hilarious.

i loved the scenes with the art workshop, where exalted instructor was this very typical, very funny character as a art teacher. that character does make me wonder if it was some sort of old gripe by the writers, purposefully reincarnated for this movie.

i absolutely loved the ending. it actually gave a movie a nice edge, that elevates it beyond the typical "watch and forget" comedy. it might have been a little predictable, but both her following her dream and disappearing somewhere, where she might be able to escape the reality that she wants to accept but at the same time needs to deny. she makes this conscious decision, carrying her things and finally getting somewhere she was waiting for.

ghost world is slightly nostalgic (for those that look at their teens in retrospect), funny, observant and sometimes just plain goofy; creating islands of lost reality in urban teenage existence.

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