But the glasses, like her caustic worldview, are a tissue-thin defense against the alienation that gradually begins to overwhelm the sensitive girl behind them.
Out of place and desperately seeking not so much acceptance as something or someone acceptable to her, Enid initially adopts purposelessness as a rebellious stance but it soon becomes an involuntary stasis in which she finds herself trapped.
Visually, stylises the look of the characters to conform with their comic counterparts, although amazingly Enid emerges looking more like a comic strip character in the film.
Thora Birch is much better looking than Clowes’ Enid, but her face has a distinctively masklike quality when wearing her glasses which is quite different from the original.
It is present in most of her old schoolmates, the various boys that drift into her orbit to be perfunctorily dismissed, the art classes she attends.
In opposition to this, she is drawn to the quirky and genuinely individualistic.The acidic humour ensures that there isn’t a single frame of the indulgent sentimentality one could envisage a lesser talent bringing to this project, while the sadness is sufficiently acute to prevent the satire from becoming crass or dehumanising.This balance is established as soon as the opening credits end with a scene of such depressing absurdity that one can only empathise with Enid’s reaction of pitying, exasperated disbelief.Our last glimpse of Seymour is leaving a session with his analyst, accompanied by his mother.As he closes the door, the camera stays with the analyst just long enough to register her grimace of exasperation at the departing patient. She feels alienated from her father who is planning to remarry.She and Rebecca are fascinated by and constantly torment Josh (Brad Renfro), an apparently sexless boy who stubbornly refuses to develop an interest in either of them.Enid’s curiosity is aroused by a strange couple she takes to be Satanists and an old man perpetually waiting for a bus at a bus stop, which has been out of service for two years.The forms Enid’s rebelliousness assume are unusually free of tabloid material for a teen movie, not going beyond oddball dressing and losing jobs through exasperation with the idiocy of her employers.Yet this comparative behavioural mildness, along with the humour, make it easy to overlook what a pessimistic film actually is.Like Clowes’ acclaimed comic, from which it was adapted, follows Enid through the dispiriting months following the end of life at school.Visually defined by the thick-rimmed glasses that dominate her face, she presents a mildly forbidding, slightly oddball mask of contemptuous exasperation with the absurdity of a lonely world textured by countless individual obsessions, idiosyncrasies and sufferings.