Screened as part of NZIFF 2002

Ghost World 2000

Directed by Terry Zwigoff

USA In English
111 minutes 35mm



Daniel Clowes, Terry Zwigoff. Based on the comic book by Clowes


Affonso Beato


Carole Kravetz


David Kitay


Thora Birch, Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi, Brad Renfro, Illeana Douglas, Bob Balaban, Teri Garr


Edinburgh 2001; Rotterdam, Sydney 2002


"Enid and Rebecca are a couple of hilariously acid-tongued teenage outsiders, contemptuous non-conformists in a flat world of strip malls and pre-fab culture. They’ve graduated from high school and they’ve got no idea what to do next. For sport they read the personal ads and answer the most pathetic, luring the lonely into waiting hours for a rendezvous, while they sit watching. This is how they meet Seymour (Steve Buscemi), an obsessive collector of old jazz recordings, 40ish and dateless. ‘In a way, he’s such a clueless dork,’ observes Enid, ‘he’s actually kind of cool.’ As she gets to know Seymour, Enid’s own sense of non-conformity begins to take on new colours. Based on an acclaimed comic book by Daniel Clowes and directed by Terry Zwigoff (Crumb), Ghost World keeps faith with its phoney-phobic heroine: it’s a funny, deadpan antidote to streamlined Hollywood teendom and one of the year’s most gratifyingly odd American movies. 

A tremendous, hilarious ode to female youth and innocence’s end that speaks to the wounded geek idealist inside us all, Ghost World is an instant classic. Raunchy, touching, sexy, subversive, perceptive and sweetly sincere, it joins a very small line of truly brilliant femme teen films like The Virgin Suicides, Heavenly Creatures and Heathers in capturing that subtle dreaminess between adolescence and irrevocable adulthood. In Ghost World (named for the space between high school and the rest of your life), all characters that enter the girls’ universe are shown as flaky caricatures. Only the two girls, and eventually Seymour, are ever seen as real human figures, cleverly enhancing the sense that the three are almost aliens in their daily lives. Based on the amazing underground comic by Eightball creator, Daniel Clowes, this film is a hysterical miracle that is totally unique to its genre. Who could have thought that such quirky independent material would ever be adapted on this large a scale by a major studio – and remain completely pure, no less?! Clowes was deeply involved with the production, co-writing the screenplay with director Terry Zwigoff. Given that Zwigoff’s previous film was Crumb (the astonishing documentary on underground cartoonist Robert Crumb), it’s tough to imagine a more appropriate collaborator. This is actually Zwigoff’s first non-documentary feature, and it reveals an enormous talent, with perfect comedic timing and a poetic sensibility that will definitely be sending him places. On the precise wavelength of the comic, Birch, Johansson and Buscemi are so perfect in their roles that it’s downright uncanny." — Mitch Davis, Fantasia 2001