Sunday, June 25, 2017

The Royal Tennenbaums

Movie Name: The Royal Tenenbaums
Year of Release: 2001
Director: Wes Anderson
Stars: Gene Hackman, Anjelica Houston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Danny Glover, Seymour Cassel, Kumar Pallana, Grant Rosenmeyer
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Watch it on Amazon

Following his breakthrough feature "Rushmore", director Wes Anderson continued his association with writer/actor Owen Wilson, and both created the family dysfunctional opus "The Royal Tenenbaums". The film follows the story of a particular family where all the offspring were child geniuses, who are now grown up and somewhat trying to adjust to a reality where they're not the precocious tykes they once were. They are all dealing with challenging situations in life, and they reunite once their mother gets a marriage proposal, particularly because though estranged from their father, she never really divorced him. Royal, the patriarch, distanced himself from the family, and suddenly comes back to try and win the graces of the family (particularly because he's been evicted from the hotel where he was living).
Wes Anderson has by now trademarked a style that is very much his own. A quirky, design detailed with retro references, humor filled universe, where all the characters are sketched out with very particular traits, to better portray a canvas that is a representation of his view of the world. If "Rushmore" was an introduction to his view of the world, "The Royal Tenenbaums" was effectively the first one where he delved deeper and came out with a style that he would continue to refine in his next features (and his most recent "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is a crystallization of all these elements that make his style so unique). This film brings forth a lot of the themes that are so associated with his work: the family unit that is filled with idiosyncratic characters, all of whom are in some way trying to adjust to a very ordinary universe, all peppered with self questioning and love pursuits that seemingly go nowhere. This merger of design aesthetic with humor and heartfelt characterizations, feels in a way like a nod to the superlative work of Jacques Tati, but it's still very much his own. The actors are all phenomenal, as usual, with Gene Hackman easily creating one of his best characters, with strong support from Ben Stiller and Bill Murray. The cinematography from Robert D. Yeoman is stunning as is the production design of David Wasco. A very good film from a very interesting director.