I recently saw the movie Ghost World with friends, and it’s been haunting me.
I did not like it at first. We had a good conversation following the film and talked about what we did/did not like about it. I had plenty of things too say. I was probably too loud, too vocal. My response to the characters was strong: Why didn’t the protagonist (or would she be an anti-hero?) Enid fight for anything? Why did she choose to run away? Why didn’t she allow herself to connect with people? Why was she so busy looking down at people that she forgot to look around, to learn, to grow?
My companions were not quite as angry with Enid (Thora Birch). Where I saw an easy out, someone else saw hope in Enid’s choice to leave. We agreed to disagree.
Days later, the character of Enid has stayed with me, as has Seymore.
I cannot easily dismiss characters that remain with me, that live on and challenge me in some way. So here I am. Why is Enid haunting me?
Sure, I identified with some aspects of her character–trying to be different, trying to find an authentic style. But I didn’t *like* Enid. I wanted more for her.
Did my response come from a place of “Valya-as-parent?” Was it because I fear for my own children, that they could quit, or push everyone away, or run away from home?
Maybe. That’s part of it.
However, I think it’s more than that.
Thora Birch (Enid) and Steve Buscemi (Seymore) both did a fine job in their roles, and their performances were the highlight of the film. I cared about their characters, I was cheering them on when they connected. But the connection is too brief, too fleeting. In the end, Enid keeps everyone and everything at an ironic distance.
Yes, she has clever, snarky comments of disapproval, but beyond that what does she have? What does she hold onto? Are Enid’s sarcastic comments an attempt to be real in an increasingly artificial world?
She never chooses to be a part of anything, except for her brief time with Seymore and the tatters of her relationship with her best friend Jessica. The only thing she chooses is to ride on an empty bus to nowhere. I suppose that’s a choice and fits with the movie, but I was not satisfied.
Was I looking for a Hollywood ending? No. That’s not it. I know that it’s not all sunshine and unicorns, especially at that age.
I remember being young and feeling lost and disjointed. Was this meant to be a film for my generation, or the generation that immediately followed my own?
Perhaps Enid evokes my Jungian “shadow”? Often the things that annoy us most about another person are the aspects of our self that we dislike and try to ignore.
While I may not have liked Ghost World, I think it was a successful and provocative film. Not many films have earned a journal entry.
I want to read the comic book version next.***