Ghost World (2001)


Ghost World is a 2001 film directed by Terry Zwigoff, based on the comic book of the same name and screenplay by Daniel Clowes. The story focuses on the life of two teenage friends, Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), who are outside of the normal high school social order in an unnamed district of Los Angeles. Although the film was not a major box-office success, it was praised by critics and has established a strong cult following.


The film follows the lives of best friends Enid (Birch) and Rebecca (Johansson) during the summer after their high-school graduation. The girls are both social outcasts, but Becky is more popular with boys than Enid. Enid's diploma is awarded on the condition that she attend a remedial art class, despite the fact that she is a talented artist. Shortly after graduation, the two girls see a personal ad in which a lonely man named Seymour (Buscemi) asks a woman he recently met briefly to contact him. With Becky at her side, Enid makes a prank phone call to Seymour, pretending to be the woman and inviting him to meet her at a diner. Enid and Becky secretly watch and make fun of Seymour as he waits alone at the diner. However, Enid begins to feel sorry for him. Following to his residence, the girls later find him selling vintage records at a garage sale and Enid buys an old blues album from him. Enid enjoys the music when she listens to it, and she and Seymour become friends. Seymour, she soon learns, holds a middle management position with a fried-chicken franchise. One of her favorite activities is trying to find women for him to date. Meanwhile, Enid has been attending her art class, whose teacher Roberta (Douglas) dismisses Enid's high-quality sketches as "light entertainment" while praising the cruder but allegedly more meaningful artwork of other students. In order to please her teacher, Enid persuades Seymour to lend her an old poster depicting a grotesquely caricatured black man, which was used by Seymour's company years ago as a racist promotional tool. In her art class, she presents the poster as a social comment about racism, and Roberta is so impressed with the concept that she later offers Enid a scholarship to an art college. At this point, Enid's and Becky's lives have seriously diverged. While Enid has spent time with Seymour, Becky has found a job and become more interested in clothing, boys, and other material things. Enid also finds a job in order to rent an apartment together with Rebecca, but she is fired after only one day. Finally, Becky gives up on looking for an apartment with Enid after their personal differences erupt in an angry argument. Sometime after Enid loses her job, Seymour receives a phone call from Dana (Travis), the woman he had written to in the personal ad. Enid encourages him to develop a relationship with Dana, but becomes jealous when he begins avoiding her. At the end of the summer, Enid's and Seymour's lives fall apart. When Enid's poster is displayed in an art show, school officials find it so offensive that they force her teacher to give her a failing grade. When she discovers she has lost her scholarship, she visits Seymour for solace and seduces him into having a drunken one-night stand with her. Seymour then breaks up with Dana before realizing he has no chance with Enid. Soon after, he loses his job, as the poster is displayed in a newspaper. Becky tells Seymour about Enid's phone prank, and he becomes hospitalized after attacking a boy who was with the girls at the time. Finally, Enid gives in to her childhood fantasy of running away (though there are other interpretations of this ending). Throughout the film, she has periodically spoken with an old man named Norman who waits at an old, now unused bus stop for a bus that never arrives. After quitting her new job and meeting with Seymour in the hospital, Enid sees a bus finally arrive to pick up Norman, and the next day, while Seymour discusses the summer's events with his therapist, Enid goes to the bus stop and gets on the bus when it arrives. The film ends as the bus drives away. Some believe this ending to be a metaphor for Enid committing suicide.