Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ghost World

The film opens with a song from the Swinging Sixties of India: Rafi's "Jaan Pehchaan Ho," by now a cult number in North America (though a largely forgotten one in India amidst a bevy of cabaret songs and invitations to twist from the same epoch); and the apt introduction sets the tone for the film. Without bitterness, and without commentary, the film delves into the suffocation of American life, where bored people make everything into a trend or discourse and lack the ability to see where the frontiers are. No one has the courage to take the bus away from here, from this life; maybe, Enid does get it, the faith to take the bus to nowhere.

It is Thora Birch playing Enid who is the soul of the film, in that she is just so much in the skin of her character. The rest of the cast is well played, and it is difficult to not to feel an itch running over your body on thinking of coming into any kind of physical contact with Steve Buscemi's Seymour: which is what he should make you feel. He is kind of a nerd, but also quite creepy, and with a very loose set of principles and pants ready to drop. It is him who provides the final punch of disappointment and of deception to Enid. Even if Enid was bored and playing games with him: on the face of it, something like another bored character, Austen's Emma the matchmaker, but to the extent of it, more like Cruel Intentions' Kathryn the evil plot-maker: the common element is neither intrigue nor designs, and not even the jeux interdits that they indulge in; but it is the lack of knowledge of what to do with their lives except design set pieces in the vaudevilles that they are trapped in.

We know what will become of Rebecca, Enid's friend, who starts adapting to the world, rather than live in the cellule of satire, wit and sneer: she will grow into a Kathryn, preferring a much-larger cocoon with labyrinths that befit a palatial mansion of luxurious charms. Enid however has realized the character of the game: that it is a game, and that bored people will continue to make makeshift arrangements of graduations and carnivals, egg-and-spoon races and art classes. She doesn't know where to go, how to get out: but she knows she has to get out. She knows she has to take the bus out.