American Beauty, for all its elegant construction and fine acting, still left a programmatic aftertaste. Not so with Ghost World, a similarly themed film which also features Thora Birch (the daughter of Kevin Spacey's character).
Enid (Birch) and Rebecca (Scarlett Johannson) are sharp-eyed high school graduates confronting the real world, the one they face with equal parts scorn and satire. Enid's stuck in a remedial art course for the summer while her less jaded friend takes up a mindless mall job. Coming-of-age outsider ennui is fleshed out more fully by the appearance of Seymour (Steve Buscemi), an isolated and bitter record collector. He's what Enid might become if she continues the path of social retreat. They develop a natural camaraderie.
Director Terry Zwigoff caused waves with Crumb, a creepy biography of the underground comic artist by the same name. He pulls dark commentary out of the quotidian in this movie (based on a comic novel by Daniel Clowes) as well. The details and frustrations of daily life are well-captured. Although supporting actors are underused, the main trio sets up an immediate and deep understanding that puts flesh-and-blood on Ghost World.