Ghost World by Terry Zwigoff (Review)

A wonderful, sensitive movie about the constraints of society on individualism and the requirements of compromise.
Ghost World - Terry Zwigoff

He’s middle-aged and employed, albeit mundanely. Outside of his employment, Seymour is obsessed with blues music from the ’20s and ’30s and collects and trades the original 78 albums with a passion. He places ads in the personals column, the latest about that “special moment” they shared when “he helped her look for her contact lens.”

She’s an almost-high school graduate who recognizes in him the misfit that she would like to be. He knows exactly who he is and what he isn’t.

Steve Buscemi does a convincing job playing the gentle, slightly odd Seymour, who is perpetually perplexed at the attention that he receives from this rather quirky but beautiful teenager. Thora Birch does what she does best by playing this rather odd girl who uses Seymour to try to define herself. As Enid, Thora Birch convinces us again (as in American Beauty) that she’s a rebellious teen whose purpose seems to be to go against the grain of what’s expected of her. She’s an artist that her art teacher (Roberta Allsworth) feels has no message, no theme.

Allsworth’s character is wrong, because Enid does have a message and a theme, or should I say an “anti-message” and an “anti-theme.” She admires everything that is not what is expected. What she knows about herself is who she doesn’t want to be.

Other great bonuses are Teri Garr, who we don’t see enough of lately, as the slightly wacky and intrusive soon-to-be stepmother, and Ileana Douglas as the weird, annoying Roberta Allsworth who searches for the “true message” in her teenage students’ art (such as the tampon in the teacup expressing the oppression of women). The music is so quirky, you find yourself humming all the way home.

This is a wonderful, sensitive movie about the constraints of society on individualism and the requirements of compromise, if not conformity. This bunch of misfits, characters and music alike, leave the rest of us trying to remember what we have given up of ourselves just to fit in.

Written by V Tee.

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