Review by: Jack Foley | Rating:
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Directors commentary. 9 deleted
scenes. Stars on the set. Easter Egg - Bill & Adidas. Intern
Video Journal. Seu Jorge performs David Bowie (10 songs). Cast
and crew interviews. Monda Monda. Stills Gallery - Photos. Stills
Gallery - Designs. Interview with music composer. Two additional
HAVING worked wonders with a small budget and mega-cast for The
Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson now gets to broaden his horizons
on The Life Aquatic with similarly impressive results.
Anyone wondering whether a bigger budget may prove the undoing
of one of Hollywood's most diverse young filmmakers can rest assured
that Anderson has lost none of his touch for offbeat humour coupled
with heartfelt poignancy.
If anything, he just gets better!
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou reunites him with several
past collaborators, including Bill Murray and Owen Wilson, whose
presence merely serves to heighten the feeling of welcome familiarity.
It also provides Murray with another masterly deadpan turn that
sits comfortably alongside his work on Lost in Translation.
He plays the Steve Zissou of the title, a world-weary oceanographer
and film-maker, whose star is very much on the wane.
When his best friend and partner is killed by a mysterious jaguar
shark on their last adventure, Zissou resolves to track down and
kill the beast, enlisting the help of his fellow crew members
to help him enact revenge.
These include Willem Dafoe, in a rare comic outing as a fiercely
loyal German first-mate, and Noah Taylor, as the ship's physicist.
But Zissou's misery is compounded
by the arrival of a young man, Ned (Owen Wilson), who claims to
be his son, and the presence of a feisty journalist (Cate Blanchett),
who seems intent on destroying the remnants of Zissou's floundering
Angelica Huston also crops up as Zissou's estranged wife, and
the real brains behind Team Zissou, as does Jeff Goldblum, who
brings his trademark malevolence to the role of Zissou's nemesis.
The ensuing seach for the jaguar shark sees Team Zissou - with
red bobble hats, wetsuits and speedos - encountering pirates and
all manner of exotic sea life, before having to confront the inevitable
personal demons that have been threatening to tear their happy
Needless to say, The Life Aquatic isn't your average Hollywood
fare. It's surreal, darkly comic and delights in its ability to
Yet for all of its quirky values, the film also possesses a big
heart and the journey that unfolds is a deeply personal one for
all concerned that has more than its fair share of tender moments.
Murray, especially, seems to enjoy the freedom to explore Zissou's
darker, more selfish side, as well as his ability to entertain,
while Wilson (who no longer serves as Anderson's co-writer) has
seldom been better as Zissou's mixed-up son, whose origins are
never fully explained.
It is a performance which proves there is far more to the actor
than a smooth-talking stoner and his relationships with both Murray
and Blanchett provide the movie with its emotional heartbeat.
In directorial terms, the underwater world that Anderson depicts
shows just how creative the writer-director can be with a bigger
budget, while the oddball humour that was rife throughout The
Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore is also here in abundance - highlights
include a safety officer who is regularly to be found singing
David Bowie songs in Portuguese, as well as any scene involving
It comes as little surprise, therefore, to find that The Life
Aquatic is certainly worth taking the plunge with for anyone who
likes their filmmaking a little bit different. It is a memorable