Cert: 15 Runtime: 119 mins Director: Wes Anderson Cast: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe, Naoh Taylor, Bud Cort, Jeff Goldblum and Michael Gambon
I’m going to find it and I’m going to destroy it. I don’t know how yet. Possibly with dynamite
Recently Wes Anderson gave us the trailer to his next feature The Grand Budapest Hotel, for me Wes is one of the best film makers in the world. He really is an amazing individual that can create vast worlds from our own reality. Over the weekend I had a bit of a Wes Anderson marathon, and I decided I would review The Life Aquatic. So who is Steve Zissou (Bill Murray)? He is sea-film auteur a la Jacques Cousteau, has reason to be melancholy: his partner has been eaten, perhaps by a mythic jaguar shark, his wife may (Anjelica Huston) be taking up with her ex-husband (Jeff Goldblum), a young man (Owen Wilson) appears claiming Steve is his father (Steve hates fathers), his most recent films have tanked, he’s having trouble raising money for his venture to revenge his partner, and he’s attracted to a pregnant reporter (Cate Blanchett) who prefers the pretender. At sea, in pursuit of the shark, will he escape pirates and mutiny, forge the bonds of fatherhood, place his arm around his wife, find the monster of the deep, re-establish box office hegemony, and discover a reason to smile?
This movie got really hit hard by the critics, being immediately dubbed as a huge disappointment. This is due primarily to the fact that the joy and brilliance of any Anderson film can’t be truly appreciated in one viewing. I remember seeing Bill Murray on a talk show say that he had just seen the movie for the third time and had just realized that Anderson had nailed the film.The problem and joy of Wes Anderson movies is that they must be seen more than once to even begin to be understood, and in many cases, to be enjoyed. They typically amuse me the first time around but I rarely get them. They become increasingly funnier, however, the more times that I see them. Anderson gets a lot of his humour out of going against the conventions, avoiding the big and easy comic payoff’s, and being funny by doing what one wouldn’t expect to be funny. And I also begin to enjoy the films more when I start to get my brain around the themes that he’s exploring. They’re usually so delicately suggested that it takes a while to really understand what he is indeed saying.Anderson totally delivers on everything one could hope from this movie. In fact, this may be one my favourite of his films. It has really grown on me. I can watch it over and over again, and it is always entertaining.My fond feelings toward it are due primarily to the fact that this is Anderson’s version of an action/adventure movie, a genre I’ve enjoyed since childhood. I didn’t realize that this was in fact an action movie, however, until Steve Zissou takes back his ship from the pirates in an Iggy and the Stooges sound-tracked blaze of gunfire and explosions.
The excitement escalates as they set sail on a mission to rescue the bond company stooge. This genre reflects the theme of the film, that life is an adventure. Consequently, it becomes a movie that is emotionally charged by child-like desires of film, while satisfying my intellectual adulthood through its unconventionality and intelligent ideas. I can relate to this film in many ways. For me, success was easy when I was young, but as an early adult, I was dismayed by the challenges and disappointments that can easily occur. Failure became a real possibility. I no longer looked at the world with wide-eyed optimism and I lost my enjoyment in it. It wasn’t until I accepted the bad with the good and kept persevering that I was able to be happy and successful again. I think this is a universal experience, whether it happens to a child, teenager, young adult, or middle-aged adult. Disillusionment can take all of the fun out of the adventure of life. When truly thrown into the challenges of life, when success doesn’t come easily, when happiness must be fought for—depression, sadness, and lethargy can result. It isn’t until one accepts the good and bad of adventure that one is able to get back into the swing of life and find success again, and in essence, find adventure.At the end of the “The Life Aquatic,” Zissou accepts both the happiness and sadness of adventure, and in so doing finds a sense of satisfaction, purpose, rebirth, and success. And we as an audience are both enlightened and entertained from witnessing it.