Rushmore (1998) – Wes Anderson

As much as I tried, though it was a long time ago, Bottle Rocket, Anderson’s first feature film, never really clicked for me. I realized there were good things in it, but for some reason it didn’t work for me. But it may be time for a rewatch considering how much I’ve enjoyed the rest of his films, and Rushmore guaranteed it.

Jason Schwartzman plays Max Fischer, a fifteen-year-old gifted playwright, who because of his writing is able to attend the prestigious Rushmore Academy. Unfortunately, he’s more interested in his extracurricular activities, and the founding of new clubs than he is in his academic career.

Things get complicated when he makes friends with the father of a pair of his fellow students, Herman Blume (Bill Murray) and falls in love with a new teacher, Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams). Unfortunately, Blume is attracted to her as well, despite being married, and Max thinks he has a chance with her.

Therefore, it’s war.

Filled with the quirky characters, whipsmart dialogue, and delightful little details that would become Anderson’s trademarks, Rushmore is funny, poignant, and reflective on the nature of love, friendship, forgiveness and growing up.

Filling out the cast are such familiar faces as Brian Cox, Luke Wilson, and Seymour Cassel. All of them get to deliver Anderson’s wonderful dialogue, which he co-wrote with Owen Wilson and create that heightened, lyrical reality that is Anderson’s realm.

Schwartzman and Murray are great to watch spar with one another, they exact their acts of revenge, petty and otherwise. The world that they inhabit is so completely realized, the sequences, little character touches, everything layers out to something wonderful.

Williams, in turn, is a delight

Fischer is at the heart of the story, it’s his tale, his struggle with first love, growing up, and discovering who he is, and Schwartzman is pitch perfect as Max, and putting him against a comedic powerhouse like Murray, the pair deliver gold.

It’s no wonder that Anderson constantly invites them into his stories, that the pair pop up throughout his films. In fact, I think once Anderson finds people he likes working with, they will always have a job.

I remember when Rushmore came out, and it was one of those films that made the rounds of our video store, everyone on the staff was talking about it, recommending it, and we all became converts to Anderson’s work and eagerly anticipated each new entry in his filmography.

So I’m looking forward to diving into (again) The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

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