Film Review: Rushmore

Having said that I would spend some time revisiting my DVD collection rather than continuing to add fresh material to it, I had completely forgotten that I had Rushmore trekking it’s way through the postal service, having returned the original copy I bought after it turned up somewhat broken. And so, it was a pleasant surprise when it arrived in the post and gave me an opportunity to once again spend some time being entertained by the thoughts and ideas created in Wes Anderson’s mind.

Rushmore is basically Wes Anderson’s second film coming on the back of Bottle Rocket, and once again saw him reunite to create a script with Owen Wilson. And that’s the start of an interesting dilemma for me. I seem to go through a mental block when it comes to Wes Anderson films. I have seen a fair few of them now, I have enjoyed some more than others, but I never really remember much about them. And so I end up in this cycle of liking a director, but for reasons I cannot explain, returning to his films, out of a loyalty which on reflection maybe more misplaced that I realise. As every time they leave me feeling somewhat, let down.

And Rushmore is another example of this. I bought it as much because it was a Wes Anderson film as anything else. There is the obvious madness that Anderson brings to the film’s he makes and you can see that once again with this. But sadly, while his more recent works, The Grand Budapest Hotel for example, have a certain polish, a certain mirror like finish to their madness, Rushmore, sadly doesn’t. In fact, looking at the chronological list of his films, you can see them while his style has always been there, his earlier films, Bottle Rocket and Rushmore, there seems to be a complete lack of clarity that develops and shines as he gains exposure and experience.

My problem with Rushmore is that I found it very superficial. There didn’t seem to be much to really sink your teeth into. The plot, very confusing is also slightly farfetched (as you’d expect from Anderson) but it seems to lack layers it so desperately needed to carry that off. Grand Budapest Hotel survived because if you start to delve into it there are themes and ideas available to you but just sit back and take in the film and you can be as equally entertained while not directly blown away. Rushmore doesn’t do that. There is nothing to search for and sadly, at its surface nothing to really entertain. The premise of the plot just ends up stretched so thin that it just doesn’t leave you feeling like you have really been given value for money. There should be a clever, funny and bizarre film to entertain you but all you get is unanswered questions and implausible character situations and interactions.

But, once trick Rushmore pulls off with style is the ability to end on a high, it makes no real sense why or how it really achieves this as it seems to serve as no real connection or conclusion to the previous story, but it’s such a weirdly perfect ending to the film that you forgive it. You allow it and accept that nothing in this film marries together properly, because as the credits role, while slightly bored you do have a smile on your face. It’s a heck of a party trick.

Whatever your thoughts on the onscreen offerings of Rushmore, one place criticism cannot be placed is upon the soundtrack. It works. It’s great. As ever with Anderson, sound is used more to drive ideas and reinforcement, if you tried listening to it on its own, or before you see the film I don’t think it would make much, if any, sense how the pieces fit together, but in this setting, the style Anderson created using songs plucked straight from the 1960/70s British indie scene are exactly what you need to draw you in. Add to that Mark Mothersbaugh’s original pieces which still have a flavour and influence over Anderson’s current work and the sounds cape of this film becomes the best bit.

I have, however, started to realise something about Wes Anderson and the films he makes that may explain my feeling of misplaced loyalty. While he never shares the director’s chair, the typewriter is a different matter. I have similar feelings to Rushmore as I did to Bottle Rocket, both of which he penned with Owen Wilson, while his later offerings – Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr Fox, The Grand Budapest Hotel – have all seen him team up with different people and I’m starting to realise that the quality and entertainment you will draw from a film credited to Anderson may well lie more with who has worked with him to bring it to life rather than with Anderson directly.

That said, looking at my IMDb ratings, I’ve given Bottle Rocket the same 6-out of-10 that I gave The Grand Budapest Hotel, and which I’m about to footnote this review with. Maybe it’s time to accept that while I have a loyalty to him, Wes Anderson has had his chance and missed too many times?

Although, having said that, I’m tempted by The Darjeeling Limited!

6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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