Friday, August 19, 2005

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Anderson, 2004)

The Life Aquatic has such a unique comic rhythm that I'm not surprised it failed to connect with a lot of people. Often, it took me a couple of seconds to realize how funny some of the moments were because there are no clues from the cast or the director to help you out and point out the humor. It's a bold move and the pay-off is a film that is not confined to being simply a goofy comedy or a farcical adventure. It's almost like Anderson is distracting you with one hand so that he can sucker punch you with the other. The key to appreciating the film, I think, is not to sit back and wait for Bill Murray to do something outrageous, but instead to observe all that you learn about Steve Zissou along the way and how he interacts with the world around him ... how he treats other people ... how he tries to manipulate his own reality and craft the way his life story will be told. And if you get to the jaguar shark and aren't thinking in terms of metaphor, then I suggest that you were probably dozing off in high school English class when your teacher was going on and on about Moby Dick. Owen Wilson's woefully inconsistent Kentucky accent was distracting for me and kept that relationship from being as effective as it could have been, but beyond that, I greatly enjoyed the ensemble. I would very much like to listen to Anderson's DVD commentary at some point to get a better sense of his artistic goals, but I feel confident in saying he's made a successful picture.



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