Cert: 15 Runtime: 93 mins Director: Wes Anderson Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Brain Cox, Luke Wilson and Olivia Wild
Maybe I’m spending too much of my time starting up clubs and putting on plays. I should probably be trying harder to score chicks
As Wes Anderson’s moonrise Kingdom is out in the cinema (review to follow) I thought I would visit my first Wes Anderson encounter Rushmore.When Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson put their heads together, do not expect plain old brainstorming. Expect a hurricane of theatrical proportions that drops an ocean of legendary imagery. In its aftermath you can find the pieces to a great monumental movie that only its creators could assemble so perfectly. And Anderson takes charge indeed in this modestly underrated tour deforce. Full of wit, hilarious lines, chemistry, sincerity, subliminal messages, betrayal, vengeance, and kite flying, Rushmore seems to have it all. It stands as their second prodigy-child, a brilliant masterpiece that paves the way for The Royal Tenenbaums.Rushmore is the story of Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), a nerdy, yet courageous, fifteen-year-old genius with unstoppable determination. Unfortunately his overachievement leads to an overload of extracurricular activities and bad grades that will threaten his greatest passion, attending Rushmore. With impeccable handwriting that matches his hairdo and exemplifies his demeanor, young Max is driven by a rush of testosterone to conquer a beauty twice his age, Ms. Cross (Olivia Wild). Bill Murray plays Mr. Blume, a steel tycoon that finds inspiration in Max and soon enough, falls for Ms. Cross. Consequently, the story takes a dive into an unwieldy love triangle that turns into a superfluous war and ironically ends with a play of the Vietnam War.
Max’s greatest virtuosity is staging elaborate high school plays which add another dimension to the film as they are presented to the viewer randomly. They intriguingly echo the movie’s itinerary as much as the soundtrack does. Never has a movie’s score been so exquisitely choreographed. It almost feels like a musical without the excessive corniness. Together, it all meshes perfectly to glorify the tenacity and leadership required to create something as grand as a play or a movie. That’s why Rushmore could very likely be a self-portrait of its own creators. Either way, Anderson provides us with a poetic look at achievement, glory, and the power of theater.The directing and the writing seem to go hand in hand; this seems logical since Anderson does both. But there is an impervious intention to make them cohesive, like written poetry complementing the grace of a painting. His shots are composed elegantly, balanced, and sometimes symmetrical. Panoramic fisheyes introduce a setting and strong close-ups emphasize moments of beauty or climatic emotion; i.e., when Bill Murray’s character falls in love with Max’s girl. Another camera trick is used to emphasize Max’s immaturity. The already small actor, Jason Schwartzman, is cropped in such a way that he looks tiny. Anderson makes his intentions clear when Max is conversing with Ms. Cross about their age difference making it impossible to have a relationship; this is also one of the wittiest scenes in the whole movie.Anderson’s opus could not be what it is without the amazing cast. The three strung-out characters are played so vividly and with a rawness that contrasts heavily with the inflated acting of Max’s plays. However, the director’s eloquence pulls through and seems to illuminate every bit of the film. Every line just seems perfect. The solid acting allows the characters to permeate the audience while giving performances that stay with you for days.
There are a few moments of stark deliberation to leave the audience modestly uncomfortable and a bit provoked, every cinematographer’s dream, right? Being familiar with Anderson’s technique does make for the dry humor and awkwardness to be a lot more digestible. But even the newbies will find the overflow of references to handjobs by the second half of the movie to be surprisingly comfortable.Again, the performances make Rushmore unforgettable. Bill Murray liked the script so much that he almost did it for free. An actor of this caliber did so much with so little playing a man of few words, relying more on gestures and a powerfully austere presence. Always drunk or smoking and very depressed, Murray adds to the character with improvisations throughout the film. Following the same natural technique is Jason Schwartzman, making it hard to believe that is not himself on the screen. The kid is only seventeen and plays his first movie with such confidence and authenticity that even at times outshines a veteran like Murray. Attention is paid to the smallest nuances: the scratching of the nose when a good repartee is required. Finally, Olivia Williams plays the love interest that keeps her cool through most of the film. She sure is a catch, excessively honest, lovable, and a bit naive. The rest of the cast is also quirky and perfect.The ending is powerful; almost tear jerking, as the curtains drop and the perfect song with the perfect lyrics seals the deal. You can but stare at the credits as a feeling of nostalgia rushes through, leaving behind a cocktail of emotions certainly worth the taste.