The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou (2004)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BB

USA, 2004.  Touchstone Pictures, American Empirical Pictures, Scott Rudin Productions, Life Aquatic Productions Inc..  Screenplay by Wes Anderson, .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Wes Anderson, , .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by

Once-famous Cousteau-esque ocean explorer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) is at the lowest point he has ever sunk in his life: his filmed adventures in the great big blue are no longer thrilling audiences, his marriage (to Anjelica Huston) is falling apart, his best friend (Seymour Cassel) was eaten by a shark and he’s having trouble financing his next film project. Aboard his rickety ship Belafonte, Murray has to keep mutiny from occurring with his crew while also developing a relationship with the son () he never knew and protecting his interests from a snooping British journalist (Cate Blanchett) with possible ulterior motives. Wes Anderson, the wunderkind responsible for the classic comedies Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, has made one of the year’s biggest disappointments: a comedy that isn’t funny enough, with a poignant subplot that isn’t nearly as moving as the other two films were. The pacing is sluggish and kills the snappy performances (the film could easily have been twenty to thirty minutes shorter), and the plot wanders just a bit too much before finally ending with a loud thud. It’s a real shame, because watching Murray play this kind of dry, sarcastic character is a reason to go to the movies in the first place, and Blanchett veritably rules the screen every chance she’s given. There’s also a delightful performance by Willem Dafoe, the production design is terrific, and Huston manages a few great moments of her own (I know it sounds like I liked it, but honestly I didn’t).

The Criterion Collection:  #300

Berlin Film Festival:  In Competition


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