Ghost World: Probably More Like Hanging Around

Based on Daniel Clowes’ underground comic series, Ghost World is a funny and bittersweet coming-of-age tale that follows caustic best friends Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) as they try to find purpose following their high school graduation. While the summer wastes away, the girls spend their time mocking everyone around them and tormenting their mutual pal Josh (the late Brad Renfro). But when Enid begins a friendship with misanthropic record collector Seymour (Steve Buscemi) and gets a crash course in the hypocritical world of art school, she begins to dirft away from Rebecca.

Directed by Terry Zwigoff (who co-scripted with Clowes), the film is as much about the slowly disintegrating friendship between Enid and Rebecca as it is a commentary on the ennui of young adult life. Particularly interesting is its depiction of the relationship between Enid and Seymour. Brought together by their shared disdain for pretty much every aspect of contemporary society, they become friends (and eventual lovers) before realizing that the ties that bind them can also suffocate.

While the tangentially related follow-up, Art School Confidential didn’t have much of an impact, Ghost World remains one of the smartest movies of the early 2000’s, and it helped set the stage for Scarlett Johansson’s subsequent superstardom.