Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Ghost World. A-
Ghost World is so fresh, even if it wasn't released in a time when indie comedies were synonymous with stale bread. These days, people behind most indie comedies seem drunk on the concept, incapable of making a real movie because they're addicted to the quirky charms of the genre. The post-Juno phase of indie comedies has gotten very tiring, with what seems like the same movie being made over and over again. It's an over-stuffed genre, with so many of them swirling around that the one by which all should be measured, Ghost World, seems to have gotten lost in the storm. Most of these types of films are lazily put together, wearing indie on their sleeve almost as an excuse to not bother about the delicacies of telling a truly good story. As a result, I was skeptical about Ghost World simply because its poster, its premise, and its cast led me to think this might a far too familiar excursion. But Terry Zwigoff, working from the comic book by Daniel Clowes, constructs this film with fantastic dialogue, funny yet sparse bits of biting comedy, and a set remarkable characters fully deserving of the attention he gives them. What I really liked about the movie was that it didn't succumb to the quirkiness so prevalent in the indie comedy today. Take the premise of two female, post-high school outsiders who skip college and you can see a hundred familiar movies made out of it. Yet Zwigoff is such a gifted storyteller that it could be argued that he's really harkening back to the days of Billy Wilder comedies, and rather than glorifying the punk rock indie girl lifestyle, he's finding every problem with it and showing what a tricky path it really is. From this dramatic standpoint, Ghost World is handled with intelligence and maturity and truth. Yet the great key of the film lies in its comedy, not goofy or vulgar, but, in my mind, truly funny and insightful humor. I didn't expect to be won over by this movie, but then I realized it was almost over and that it got me from the start. And what's remarkable is that the main female character is really hard to like for essentially the entire film.