Film review: Ghost World (2001)

Two rebellious teenage high school graduates despise everything that’s normal in suburbia. This makes for some very amusing, sarcastic dialogue. Enid knows what she doesn’t care for, but has no clue what she does want, she is constantly changing her appearance.

It’s that rare movie where I think it surpassed the comic book it was based on, both are so quotable. Check the memorable quotes section on IMDB here

I love the wicked bummer humour used on many occasions:
"I can't relate to 99% of humanity"

The film does a good job making the actors cartoony, the make up, costumes and the setting, and in my opinion manages to capture the world of the graphic novel. Scarlett Johansson as always is cute, almost as if God decided she was too beautiful, so he has to punish her by giving her a deep voice, ha ha ( : (That is if you find a deep female voice unattractive)

To me, the Greek supermarket scenes are the funniest parts.

The running time just flies by, no dull moments. One of the best films I can think of that portrays teenage angst and insecurity, and just hanging out and being mischievous from a girl's point of view. Quite dense (in a good way), there are a lot of small details and pieces of dialogue which may reveals themselves on multiple viewings. A film you can return to and easily rewatch.

As other reviewers write, a film you can relate to if you’ve ever felt out of place in life. About the teenage fear of being trapped in a grown-up future and choosing the wrong grown-up identity. And it evokes sympathy for the judgmental and cynical Enid, as she finds beauty in others' flaws.

An interpretation of the phrase “ghost world” is that it illustrates the fact that today, everyone seems to be living in their own world, thus making the objective world a “ghost” world. The term can also apply to the way in which both Enid and Becky, but especially Enid, are haunted by the past.

The film won a number of awards for the screenplay and acting. My rating is 9/10




David Boring / by Daniel Clowes

While watching and reviewing Ghost World, I also took the time to read arguably Daniel Clowes other masterpiece, the graphic novel David Boring, which I was recommended by a blogger friend. Was an entertaining read. It features on Times’ ten best graphic novels of all time list. Love that name, David Boring, can you imagine someone saying: Hi Boring! David is our teenage narrator living in 1998 together with roommate Dot. Only 116 pages, so a quick read. The only weakness I could find was the family gathering on the island, where suddenly people started killing each other, which strained believability. More raunchy and with more characters than Ghost World, and again some unforgettable quotes. I’ll share a few of them here:

Page 12: “You can never really trust someone who remembers every embarrassing detail of your adolescence”

Page 47: “Aside from getting shot in the head, David, what have you done with yourself”

Page 73 “More and more, I can’t stand to hurt any living creature. I’m too fearful of revenge...”

Thanks for reading! As always, let me know what you think in the comments below


  1. It's an interesting teen movie, probably because it's from a comic book. Scarlett is effortless beautiful here, and she only wear regular shirt and jeans.
    The only odd thing is the ending, which I can't decide if it's on to a good or bad thing.

    1. I loved the ending, and it serves true to the Ghost World's "leitmotif". Maybe because it's ending is ambigious. With the comic, people led to their own conclusions, Rebecca made something with herself, while Enid is speculated to have commited suicide, due to subtle clues that compelled to this conclusion.

      Daniel Clowes allowing us to make up our own minds about the ending of his story is almost an honour. It’s as if we get to play a bigger part in the characters’ lives than if everything was set out nicely before us.

      The ending is superbly surreal. It didn't butt in, but was organic to the story. I would have it no other way. It is faithful to the comic.

    2. @Anonymous: Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the ending

  2. Gosh, I haven't read David Boring for years! Ghost World will always remain one of my favourite films. You know that scene where they leave a note on the guy's door saying "we came here to fuck you but you weren't home"? Me and my friend did that once and thought it was hilarious. He didn't get the reference.

  3. I have been dying to watch this again. I own it, but I really want my daughter to watch it with me. This movie is close to my heart because it was pretty similar to the relationship with my best friend from high school. That probably sounds weird, but we did have some interesting adventures together! I have the graphic novel too. I haven't heard of David Boring. I'll have to look in to it.

  4. Wasn't Steve Buscemi in that one? It's been so long since I last saw it.

  5. I remember that I saw this movie, but I just couldn't relate to just felt too weird...

  6. Daniel Clowes is one of my all-time favourite writers, so I feel a slight embarrassment that I have never read David Boring! I need to correct this at some point as I have heard so many good things about it, and I am sure it will live up to the hype.

    Ghost World, on the other hand, in my eyes, is wonderful writing (both for the film and the comic). I could never pick between the two, though, as I love both versions so much!

  7. @ Andina: Maybe Scarlett is going to be the audrey hepburn or grace kelly of our generation. I think the ending is open-ended.

    @ Andrea : Ghost World is on my favourite film list as well. That's such a cool story, ha ha, I don't know if I'd have the guts to do that kind of thing for real ( :

    @ Colleen : I think it would work as a mum-daugther watch, the movie definitely holds up to a rewatch, anyway. : Buscemi again in one of those oddball parts he's famous for, he's kind of cool in Ghost World- at least Enid sees him that way.

    @myfilmviews : too weird? ok, maybe not to your taste then. Maybe you need to be a little bit weird yourself too enjoy it, ha ha ( :

    @ Cherokee : I agree, Daniel Clowes is a talented author, I like his humour. The other Clowes film, Art School Confidential (2006) wasn't quite as strong, but if you're a big-time Clowes fan and haven't seen it yet, it's worth a look! I didn't think the graphic novel Wilson (2010) was as memorable as his previous work.

  8. I haven't watched Ghost World in a few years, but it is definitely much more focused than its comic book origin. I don't know the specifics of the production, but obviously this relates to the comic being serialized, and probably with the date of its publication -- Ghost World the comic seems to be the kind of bridge between Clowes' earlier, "weirder" stuff (like A Velvet Glove Cast in Iron) and his more recent stuff dealing with more realism and character development (Wilson, Mister Wonderful), and the film falls more into that latter category.

    I think Scarlet Johansson's voice somehow got higher, though. Maybe she was just nervous, but I remember much bemusement when she hosted SNL, and her tones were not as bass as I'd recalled.

  9. @ erin : Thanks for your comments on Daniel Clowes, he's a unique talent,Ghost World's dialogue is so sharp and witty.
    I haven't seen SNL, maybe scarlett johansson is going through an Al Pacino voice change, just the other way round, ha ha ( :

  10. Great review. This is the movie I really took notice of Scarlet Johansen, She was cute, but still kind of young so I really didn't want to find her hot even though we're only just a few years apart. The soundtrack was great although I would only want to hear it in the actual movie and not on a seperate C.D. or digital download. Will check out David Boring a little later. Thanks for the recomendation.

    1. @TheVern: Thanks man, and apologizes for the belated response! Scarlett Johansson is in three of my favorite films, Lost in Translation, Match Point, and this one.
      Can’t really remember the soundtrack that well, which tells me it’s been a while since I last watched Ghost World. Anyway, hope you like David Boring.

  11. Fantastic review! I didn't love the leading character in Ghost World, but I agree that the time just flies by. It's such an entertaining film. Cynical, but fun to watch :)

    1. @Ben Russell: Thanks a lot! Yep, it’s so well put together, that I was never bored. Fun to watch indeed :)

  12. I just love this film.

    Did you see 13 Moons (2002(? It's very similar in style. And also has Buscemi (plus Dinklage, Rockwell, Stormare).

    1. @indiescifi451: Haven’t watched 13 Moons. Seems to be an independent film not many people have seen. I’ll check the trailer.

    2. Yep. I remember watching it the same year as Ghost World...


What do you think about the post? I look forward to hearing from you. Rest assured I will reply soon.


Related Posts with Thumbnails