Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou


The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou; Drama/ Comedy/ Adventure, USA, 2004; D: Wes Anderson, S: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Willem Dafoe, Anjelica Huston, Jeff Goldblum, Michael Gambon, Noah Taylor, Bud Cort, Seu Jorge, Seymour Cassel, Robyn Cohen

Rome. Oceanographer Steve Zissou presents his new documentary in which his good friend Esteban was eaten by a Jaguar shark. Thirsting for revenge, Steve decides to kill the fish. He accidentally meets Ned, a lad who claims to be his son and is willing to finance his expedition. On the ship, the crew, among others journalist Jane and agent Bill, start a long journey to find the shark. Ned dies in a helicopter crash while Steve finds the shark, but let's it live. His documentary wins an award.

After two critically acclaimed films, "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenebaums", Wes Anderson and his favorite actor Bill Murray got out of the shape with their third collaboration, the bizarre tragicomedy "The Life Aquatic". The film has flaws, especially due to some of it's random, strange, but underdeveloped moments, but it's still recommendable and works as some sort of a homage to Fellini's "Eight and a Half". The first half is absolutely brilliant and is rich with Anderson's visual style and virtuoso details: for instance, Steve notices his deceased friend on the TV and touches the screen, causing a small electrifying spark with his finger. He "pours" a seahorse from a plastic bag into his glass. The crew spots some sort of Polar lights on the sky, in the form of a blue ring. And the scene where Steve catapults a lizard from his arm abounds with Murrayish humor. Unfortunately, due to Anderson's artificial writing, the second half is so overstretched, dead and deformed that it killed the opening enthusiasm. In it, the dramaturgic moments are overemphasized, the characters anemic and fake, the sequence with the pirates is unnecessary, while excellent actors like Willem Dafoe and Jeff Goldblum didn't even get 10 % maneuvering room to show their potential, while Anderson's recycling of his old themes, like a love triangle, seems tiresome. That's why out of all the critics, only Edward Havens boldly announced it as the best film of the year. Sadly, it's gets pretty obvious soon that the story revolves around nothing, but the person who wrote a specific dialogue between Ned and Steve ("I'll fight you, Steve!" (Steve punches him) - "Never say: I'm going to fight you. You have to act normal, smile and then you suck a punch.") is genius.

Grade:++

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