Scarlett Johansson as Rebecca
Directed by Terry Zwigoff
Written by Daniel Clowes
Release Year 2001
MPAA Rating R
Enid and Rebecca have been best friends for almost as long as they can think. Now it’s the day of their highschool graduation. Finally, they will be able to fulfill their mutual plan: find work and move in together. Fist obstacle: Enid has to repeat art at summer school. Maybe I should add, the two are not your average teenagers. They’re eccentric and their people are the losers. A hobby of theirs is to follow strangers just for fun. And unlike teenagers in other American films, they are not going to college after highschool. They really are best friends however, they are like a married couple, in regard of how much time they spend time together.
While Rebecca feels that it is time to grow up and figure out what to do with her life, Enid is at the stupid summer school. There, you just have to say something very creative and intelligent and your art – however gross or poor – is the best. Something that isn’t like outspoken Enid at all. Enid is also trying to get along with her father when his ex-girlfriend shows up again – a woman Enid hates. So, the two slowly start drifting apart. But they haven’t noticed it yet (maybe) and are still spending time together. Going through the ads (Rebecca: Our future husbands might be contacting us) they come across a very ridiculous one: A man with a green cardigan is looking for a striking blonde whom he had helped find her contact lenses. And didn’t they have a moment?! Rebecca suggests calling him and pretending to be the blonde.
That’s how they get to know Seymour, someone who is collecting records like a nerd. Rebecca thinks he is just that. But Enid is fascinated by him and is determined to find a girl for him. So Enid is now spending time with him and Rebecca (who is sick of Seymour) starts working at Starbucks. All she needs now is an own apartment. Will she move in alone or with Enid? And Enid, will she finally discover who she wants to be (she had had many different phases so far e.g. ‘the old lady phase’ years ago) and what she wants to do?
It’s a film about teenage angst, growing up and friendships. Ghost World isn’t a thriller at all – the title refers in my opinion to this ghostly stage between adolescence and adulthood. The time where you re-think everything and decide your next decades of your life. The film is very realistic, and as most of these, it leaves a certain sadness in you after watching it. But each and every performance is excellent, there is a lot of (dark) humor and it is beautiful as a whole.
Scarlett Johansson’s Role
Scarlett plays Rebecca. In many Hollywood productions 28-year olds play teenagers. Ghost World however, features actual teen actors and actresses. Especially notable is Scarlett’s age: she was 15 when the film was shot – in which she believably plays a 18-year old. But Scarlett has this certain maturity that she can do this. She brought Rebecca to life, an official supporting character since the film focuses on Enid’s emotional rollercoaster. But thanks to Scarlett’s performance Rebecca stands out and sticks in your mind.
Rebecca wants to be different – which she is somehow – probably the reason why she befriends Enid. This friendship becomes loser when Enid has to repeat art after their high school graduation. And since Rebecca – unlike Enid – knows what she wants (to move in with Enid and to find a job) the difference between the two becomes even bigger. While Enid spends more time with Seymour and trying to figure out who she is and what she wants, we see Rebecca developing and growing up. At the beginning she was just an eccentric teenager who loved following people and playing other practical jokes on petty bourgois citizens. At the end she is a self-confident young woman who – at least for the time being – has reached her goals.
After a 3-year almost complete absence from the screen, Scarlett’s performance of Rebecca in Ghost World is remarkably mature and excellent. Scarlett was able to live up to her promising performances in Manny & Lo and The Horse Whisperer. She deservedly received raving reviews and some awards for Ghost World.
… Thora Birch
… Steve Buscemi
… Brad Renfro
Trivia & Facts
• Scarlett hates the photo of her that was used for the poster.
• This was the first film to receive an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay based on a Graphic Novel or Comic Book.
• The character of Seymour appears only as the victim of the girls’ prank in the comic and was made significant at Zwigoff’s suggestion. Another change includes Rebecca having a rather diminished role compared to her role in the comic, which gave a more balanced amount of attention to both girls.
Quotes: Scarlett Johansson
• Scarlett on her role: “This is not a typical teen film. I received the comic book with the screenplay, and I was so blown away by the reality of the characters and the truthfulness of their dialogue. I mean, it was so real to life it was amazing, and the visuals were like watching a movie, almost. But one of the great things about the film, what really brings it together, is the cast. Rebecca is this really smart girl who is sort of different. That’s why she befriends Enid, who is really outrageous and loud. Even though they’re best friends, in a way they’re total opposites. Rebecca and Enid are always finding some interesting person to follow and exploit and embarrass, just for their own pleasure. But Rebecca is eager to get an apartment and get on with her life. I’m very headstrong, and when I know what I want there’s no way that I won’t go for it. It’s been this way ever since I was a toddler. So I can definitely identify with that part of Rebecca. But I also identify with the part of Rebecca which is glad to be an adult ready to do her own thing.”
• Scarlett on the poster: “I just hate that picture of me (pointing to the poster on which she stands next to Birch, staring into the distance). But you know what, it doesn’t matter, because I think I’d hate it no matter what kind of picture it was… Don’t I look so confused? I look like, I don’t know, I look like a bird just s__t on my head, or something. Don’t I? I mean come on, think about it in that sense… I look like I’m saying, “What the hell?” I don’t know, it’s just the oddest face.”
• Terry Zwigoff (Director): “Scarlett’s 15, going on 35 – wise beyond her years. She is a very natural actress and instinctively captured Rebecca’s character. Very cool and reserved, but also a bit of a weirdo – rather peculiar and odd in a subtle way, so it worked out really well.”
• “She’s a terrific actress. She was really the best thing about The Horse Whisperer. She’s funny, bright, wise beyond her years. What I liked most about her for her part in Ghost World is that she’s a little bit eccentric. She’s got her own highly developed persona, which is very unusual for anybody that age.”
• Daniel Clowes (Script Writer): “She’s one of the oddest people I’ve ever met. Scarlett’s much more able to deal with adult social situations than I’ll ever be. But on the other hand, she’s very innocent.
I think she’s such an amazing actress that she can get away with that (not saying all of her lines). I think she’s got more natural talent than any actress I’ve ever seen. Scarlett is such a terrific young actress with such charisma. And they have a great chemistry, the two of them, and became friends right as we started filming. They’re very close, almost as close as the two characters.”
Quotes: Her Character
• “This is so bad it’s almost good.”
• “That guy is many things, but he’s definitely not cool.”
• “And you haven’t heard the miracle of masturbation?”
• “Some people are ok, mostly I just feel like poisoning everybody.”
• [about the rap song playing in the 50s restaurant] “So, who could forget this great hit from the fifties, huh?”
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