Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA/United Kingdom/Germany, 2001. United Artists, Granada Film Productions, Jersey Shore, Mr. Mudd, Advanced Medien, Screenplay by Daniel Clowes, Terry Zwigoff, based on the comic book by Daniel Clowes. Cinematography by Affonso Beato. Produced by Lianne Halfon, John Malkovich, Russell Smith. Music by David Kitay. Production Design by Edward T. McAvoy. Costume Design by Mary Zophres. Film Editing by Carole Kravetz Aykanian, Michael R. Miller.
Unforgettably funny look at the growing pains of high school girl Enid (Thora Birch) who doesn’t fit in with the perky teenagers around her, but is too smart and self-confident to apologize for herself. She and her best friend Becky (Scarlett Johansson) live in what is basically a “ghost world”, spending their days wandering around, eating at diners, playing practical jokes on people and exploring the underworlds of comic book artists and rare record collectors. It soon becomes obvious that Becky is ready to join the rest of the so-called normal society she has been disdaining for so long, while Enid is still sure there’s more to life than just fitting in. Along the way, she befriends a lonely record aficionado (Steve Buscemi, his best role in years) with whom she develops a deep friendship, plus becomes quite active in the summer school art class she’s been forced to take to complete her high school diploma. Birch is mesmerizing in the lead, fully commanding the screen with her acerbic wit, and the direction by Terry Zwigoff is offbeat and fully dedicated to the other-worldliness of his characters. Illeana Douglas has a great role as Enid’s art teacher.
The Criterion Collection: #872
Academy Award Nomination: Best Adapted Screenplay
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Thora Birch); Best Supporting Actor (Steve Buscemi)