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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Ghost World': An Uncanny Dark Comedy About Two Friends' Search for Meaning in a Seemingly Meaningless World

Movie poster for Ghost World

Ghost World (2001) is an uncanny and empathetic dark comedy that follows two best friends, Enid (Thora Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), as they struggle to navigate life after high school. Disillusioned with the prospect of adulthood, the pair half-heartedly navigates the summer after graduation, beset by boredom and existential angst.

Enid, a sardonic outcast with a rebellious streak, fails to complete her schoolwork and is forced to attend a remedial art class, while Rebecca begins a new job at a local coffee house. Together they hatch a mischievous prank by responding to a personal ad posted by middle-aged Seymour (Steve Buscemi)—only for Seymour to become an unexpected confidante for Enid. As she delves deeper into his world, Enid is forced to confront her own cynicism and question her path forward, while Rebecca's pursuit of popularity begins to create a rift in their friendship. Their misadventures gradually evolve into a wry coming-of-age story about the search for meaning in a seemingly meaningless world.

Based on Daniel Clowes' graphic novel of the same name and directed by Terry Zwigoff (Crumb, Bad Santa), Ghost World is an intelligent and insightful exploration of teen angst. Birch all but steals the show, embodying Enid's signature cynicism flawlessly with deadpan delivery that perfectly expresses her frustration with the world. With its jet black humor and unique blend of live-action and comic book aesthetics, Zwigoff's film expertly navigates themes of teenage disillusionment, outsider identity and the complexities of human interconnectivity.


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