Every so often, film lovers are allowed a chance to rejoice as a gem of a film escapes Hollywood with everything that’s good about it intact. Writer/director Terry Zwigoff’s new film Ghost World is one of those movies.A sweet and poignant film, Ghost World explores that gray, uncertain area of life after high school and the reluctance to enter the “real” world. Enid (Thora Birch) and her friend Rebecca (Scarlet Johansson) have just graduated high school and are uncertain as to what they want to do with their lives. They intend to get real jobs and rent an apartment together; it becomes apparent early on that college isn’t in the cards for either of these girls. Despite being inseparable during high school, the two girls begin to drift apart as their lives take different directions. Rebecca begins to embrace “conventionality” (by taking a job at Starbucks) and soon rents out an apartment, beginning her plans for the future. Enid, however, begins to drift into a relationship with a much older, timid jazz loving record collector (Steve Buscemi), taking art classes and continuing to live in her father’s house. The rift between Rebecca and Enid grows, with each girl making less and less effort to bridge it. The strength of Ghost World lies in its characters, which leap off the screen and command your attention for the entire running length. The narrative doesn’t rely on clichés and contrivances, but merely lets the story tell itself. The ending may irritate and even anger some moviegoers, yet this reviewer thought the open-ended nature fit the story perfectly. Ghost World’s cast is uniformly perfect, with the standouts being Birch and Buscemi as the May/December romantics. The script, adapted from the comic of the same name by both Zwigoff and the comic’s creator, Daniel Clowes, is a strong piece of work. The issues and themes explored with such grace in Ghost World are often mangled by mainstream Hollywood.In these dwindling days of summer, when the studios are dumping the blockbuster leftovers into multiplexes, quality is hard to find, unless you’re willing to seek it out. If you’re in the mood for something off the beaten path, cinematically speaking, do yourself a favor and visit Ghost World.