Having watched the delightful Moonrise Kingdom recently I had the urge to dig out some old Wes Anderson movies and treat myself to seeing some old friends. First on the list to view again was Rushmore, possibly, my favourite from Anderson’s back catalogue.
A very young looking Jason Schwartzman plays our not entirely loveable protagonist, Max Fischer, a student at the elite Rushmore academy. Max has terrible grades, and spends too much time participating in extra-curricular activities (not a euphemism!) Max, a prolific attention seeker, starts to concentrate his own attention on a first grade teacher, Rosemary Cross, (Olivia Williams) although the pair become friends it is a purely platonic affair on the part of Rosemary. Max, while crushing on Rosemary, is also cultivating a (platonic) relationship with millionaire Herman Blume, played in the most deadpan style by Bill Murray. This, if you couldn’t guess, is where things become complicated. Herman and Rosemary start a relationship and thus everyone’s lives start to follow a downward trajectory. Max, of course, is filled with jealousy and intent on revenge. And so it begins…
Like with most Anderson movies you either buy into the world he’s creating or you end up hating it. There’s plenty of vitriol, spread throughout the internet world, about Anderson’s style of movies. The word “quirky” gets thrown around a lot to describe them, I dislike that term. It seems so dismissive of what’s actually being created. Personally I love his films. I can appreciate why people do hate them, it’s not like when people tell you they hate Citizen Kane and you’re left a gasp. The characters in Anderson films can seem cold and difficult to connect with, whilst his directing style is exaggerated and aggrandizing. I’ve come to expect it from Anderson now, in fact, I rather enjoy it. I like all the little touches he adds to his movies.
Back to Rushmore…The film is a wonderfully observed comedy. It’s full of great lines, played in the most understated way. At one point Bill Murray is going through a minor mental breakdown, and, whilst smoking a cigarette, lights another cigarette and starts smoking them both inside an elevator/lift. It may not seem widely fun, but it’s performed so perfectly that it always makes me laugh. The film is full of little touches that make me smile. Even the tragic moments have a sense of comedy, for example, Murray mumbles irreverently “Mmmm…I’m a little bit lonely these days” and you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.
I’ve often wondered what the results would be if Anderson attempted to make a serious, deep movie. His own There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men. I can imagine he’d make quite an interesting director of crime movies. There’s really not a lot of difference between any Anderson film. They’re all of the same ilk. They’re all tragicomedies, with characters that aren’t quite the same as anyone else. I love Anderson movies, but watching Rushmore again shows a lack of evolution from Anderson. I don’t really mind really though, I kinda like them the way they are.
Marks out of ten – Nine.