Ghost World may seem like an odd choice for a Bureau review, but it’s adapted from a graphic novel, it features hipster-nerds as lead characters, and at least one interpretation of the ending nudges it in the direction of genre.

It’s also a great film.

Cast, Crew, and Other Info:

Director: Terry Zwigoff

Writer: Daniel Clowes.


Thora Birch as Enid
Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca
Steve Buscemi as Seymour
Brad Renfro as Josh
Bob Balaban as Enid’s Dad
Debra Azar as Melora

Available here and here.


Two teenaged girls find their relationship strained after they graduate high school, and one falls for a geeky older man after they subject him to a cruel prank.

High Points:

Rebecca: This is so bad it’s almost good.

Enid: This is so bad it’s gone past good and back to bad again.

This film features excellent performances and some very funny dialogue. The Internet Movie Database features several of these, though they lose something without the film’s context.

Low Point:

I wish the film, like the comic, could have shown us more of Becky’s story in the second half.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6 Many movies depict teenage life. Few get it right. While Ghost World has been adapted from a graphic novel, the movie has significantly altered the plot.

Effects: 5/6 The film has no effects, but it does include some impressive artwork. See Fiz’s posting about “effects” which follows.

Story: 6/6 The original graphic novel was episodic in nature. Clowes, clearly influenced by Zwigoff’s Crumb, introduces Seymour to provide a focus.

Acting: 6/6. This film features excellent casting and characterization.

Production: 6/6. The film presents the world most of us inhabit, rather than its Hollywood equivalent. We see power lines, dirty streets, and homely people. This film captures the art of the everyday.

Emotional Response: 6/6. The strength of the film, as with the graphic novel, is that we see the world from the central characters’ perspectives, but we can also assess the central characters from the world’s point of view.

Overall: 6/6.

Ghost World receives a total score of 39/42

The Finale

What happens at the end of the movie? In the graphic novel, the enigmatic bus line has been re-activated, and Enid is clearly leaving, as per her childhood fantasy. Clowes, later, shows us one possible future for Enid and Rebecca in his graphic novel Pussey! In the movie, however, , we’re not told that the bus line has been reactivated. Indeed, the evidence suggests that it remains closed. Is Enid just leaving, as in the comic? Has her bus finally arrived to take her to her future life? Or is the bus somehow an otherworldly transport? In the wake of her serious setbacks, is Enid committing suicide?