Wednesday, June 24, 2009

We All Live In A Yellow Submarine

The Life Aquatic w Steve Zissou(2004)
Directed by Wes Anderson

"This is an adventure."
This is Wes Anderson's greatest departure from realism and into the realm of the fantastic. From the "crayon ponyfish", the Jaque Costeau outfits, the Mark Mothersbaugh (of Devo) pop song selection, the David Bowie songs in Portuguese, to the literally yellow submarine, we are granted a trip with a bygone hero on his last mission of revenge, love, family, and tragedy.The tone here is much more dayglo and childlike, but the characters maintain their trademark Anderson deadpan sensibilities and sharp/awkward wit.
What disappoints so many about this film, is that there isn't an easy resolution. Paradoxically more than any other Anderson film this is his most fantastical and fatalistic.
Steve Zissou learns all of his most important lessons far too late to do anything about them, theres a kind of division between the character and his life (the title after all is "The Life Aquatic...with Steve Zissou), where like so many Henry James characters Steve just can't get himself together; can't catch the fish, can't get the girl, and can't make the movie.
Even as his long lost son is returned to him, his wife abandons him, his financiers all but cut him off, and he still can't get out of "why me?".
For all it's rainbow claymation fish, and clever musical samplings the end is straight outta "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzia" (an 80's film about superhero who was kind of the ultimate man), it's kind of a depressing film.
Or at least the ironic tensions between the comedy and tragedy kind of flatten each other out.
Still if given the option of spending two hours watching the Belofontaine and it's crew, or in the lives of some of Wes Anderson's other characters I'd take the red cap and the jumpsuit, any day.

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