Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Royal Tenenbaums


The Royal Tenenbaums; Tragicomedy, USA, 2001; D: Wes Anderson, S: Gene Hackman, Luke Wilson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson, Anjelica Huston, Danny Glover, Bill Murray, Kumar Pallana, Alec Baldwin (voice)

Royal Tenenbaum, once a gifted lawyer, left his wife Etheline and their three kids, Chas, Richie and the adopted Margot, whose plays he criticized on her birthday. Chas grew up to become a financial genius while Richie became an invincible tennis champion, yet one Royal left they started neglecting their talents. As a grown up, Margot still smokes secretly, while her husband, neurologist Raleigh St. Clair, is worried when she leaves him. Chas suffers from paranoia. Richie travels around the world in a ship and is in love with Margot. When Royal returns to his family, faking illness as an excuse, the whole family comes to their old home to reunite again.Royal finds a job and Richie and Margot start a relationship. Royal then dies.

Funny drama "The Royal Tenenbaums" is considered a masterwork by some part of the critics, but it's visibly weaker and impartial than Wes Anderson's previous film, the wonderful coming-of-age film "Rushmore" which was less "polished", but more honest, emotional and understandable. Anderson's trademark became subtitles which are placed in some sequences in his films, and in "Rushmore" he made an unforgettable moment where he used them to present the 100 talents of Max Fischer in only 1 minute, whereas there are no extraordinary inventive moments here. The only similar moment in "Tenenbaums" is when Anderson presents all his actors in the film after the long childhood segment by placing the title "Cast (22 years later)" or when he shows all the escapades of Margot from her teenage hood up to her present state.

Here, he obviously shifted his author's vision to a different level, and thus some of the moments are rather too bizarre to have any sense and many ideas seem completely pointless (for instance, the fact that Margot lost a finger is completely unnecessary and has no function in the story at all, except in the amusing small scene where the movie shows her glove with 4 fingers), but his shot composition and choice of music, especially "Judy is a Punk", is once again fantastic. Here and there Bill Murray manages to steal a few scenes with his small cameo as the bearded neurologist, yet it's obvious Anderson wrote the better role for Gene Hackman who plays the perfect anti-grandpa Royal, who among others placed a fake headstone on his grave stating: "Died tragically rescuing his family from the remains of a destroyed sinking battleship". It's an unfocused, but impressive film with top-notch calligraphy and small details. Hackman won his 3rd Golden Globe, as best actor in a musical or comedy, while the screenplay was nominated for an Oscar and a BAFTA.

Grade:+++

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