Ghost Wold is the story of two teenagers trying to find something to do or somewhere to be in a world that completely bores them. Rebecca and Enid just graduated from highschool and they need to figure out what to do next. They have to keep their friendship strong through the separate paths they will take, and at the same time confront this reality -that they don't like- into which it's time to step in. Both of them try different ways.
Rebecca and Enid are played by Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch. Both of them have a cruel, almost shockingly witty sense of humor, and unchanging expressions of total apathy in front of most of what goes on in their lives. Their characters are so well-written, and the dialogue in the film is just terrific. Many such comedies about "teenage outcasts" tend to wildly exaggerate "lingo", or make really heavy use of stereotypes until almost every character has a label across their forehead. Ghost World is almost sympathetic to its characters, even those it tends to criticize, by understanding that really no one is all bad, or exclusively what we think they are at first glance. I was relieved by the lack of cliché scenarios and the intelligence with which so much of the film developed. However, this doesn't mean Enid and Rebecca do not treat the people they consider idiots in brutal ways, it simply means the rest of the film does not necessarily side with them. If you laugh along with them, which I did, you are the only one held accountable.
Steve Buscemi plays a lonely, awkward, yet good-hearted old blues record collector on whom Enid and Rebecca play a practical joke. Soon Enid realizes perhaps he is just as disenchanted with the world as she is and finds in him a companion. This relationship seems perfectly absurd to us from outside, but the way their scenes together are written helps us make complete sense of them and it's, to me, the single most involving aspect of the entire film. Steve Buscemi's performance is really the key to making the character work. He always plays characters that are somewhat offbeat, but he's always great, and in this particular role he perfectly handles the dichotomy of pathetic yet strong, beat down yet not hopeless.
These three performances make the film thanks to a great script. It doesn't have quite a coming-of-age theme, and it isn't a feel-good film, it's about two girls in a difficult situation they can only fix from inside. It has some devastating moments, then it's laugh-out-loud funny, then it kind of made me want to cry. Certainly very well written, and in many ways, a little piece of life.