Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 2012. Indian Paintbrush, American Empirical Pictures. Screenplay by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola. Cinematography by Robert D. Yeoman. Produced by Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales, Scott Rudin. Music by Alexandre Desplat. Production Design by Adam Stockhausen. Costume Design by Kasia Walicka-Maimone. Film Editing by Andrew Weisblum. Academy Awards 2012. Cannes Film Festival 2012. Golden Globe Awards 2012. Gotham Awards 2012.
Wes Anderson creates another ode to the language of quirk with this disaffected tale of young love between pre-teens. A socially uncomfortable young man spending the summer with Anderson’s version of Boy Scouts eludes his team leader (Edward Norton) and runs away from his camp with the emotionally troubled daughter of the town’s progressively intellectual lawyers (Frances McDormand, Bill Murray). The search for these lovers on the lam turns them into the targets of an attack by emotionally guilty adults (also including police chief Bruce Willis and “Social Services” in the form of a Deborah Kerr’d Tilda Swinton), all of it housed in the visual splendor of the auteur’s affection for grainy brown hues and retro paraphernalia. Anderson’s almost fetishistic obsession with plastic book covers, portable radio players and retro-mod outfits are so loud that they overpower the story, and it does not help that the two youngsters at the centre of it have no chemistry between them to withstand the force of the aesthetic onslaught. In short, it’s far from the glories of Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums; where before there was affection there is now only affectation, with the adults playing token roles that do them no justice. The film’s only pockets of sympathy are Norton’s moments with his little charge: the scene where he tells our hero how sorry he is that he finds himself persecuted and alone has all the emotional depth that made all of Rushmore so good, and makes it clear that Anderson chose the wrong characters as his focus.