Wes Anderson is one hell of a unique individual. His films, simply by their construction, are wholly unique to him, and unlike almost any other films out there. However, Anderson also runs into the trap of having all of his films seem very much the same; there is very little distinction between individual films in his oeuvre. Still, if one were to pick out one of Anderson’s films as probably his best (the recent Moonrise Kingdom notwithstanding), more likely than not it would be The Royal Tenenbaums, his feature about the lives of a family of young savants and how they’ve grown into adulthood with and without the care and attention of their eccentric father, who desperately wants to be back in their lives.
Much of what I’ve gone over about Anderson I did in my review of Rushmore, and much of it pertains to this film as well. The script is atypically smart, in that elitist sense that seems to pervade Anderson’s being; there’s a real sense that the film thinks it’s better than you and wants you to know it, which can be off-putting to some. The production value was well utilized, opting to keep the characterization high for the slew of characters the film decides to encompass. What really stands out is, of course, Anderson’s cinematography, specifically the framing and composition of his shots; very square, very rigid even when the camera is in motion, always keeping the principle elements of the shot in the center of the frame – even when there are multiple elements, the center of gravity between them all almost always lies right in the middle of the frame. It’s unusual, and very striking for this reason.
Like Rushmore, the film can get kinda pretentious at times, but it still manages to be lovable at the same time, as contradictory as that may seem. If you’re receptive to the type of film Wes Anderson crafts, it’ll be easy to like The Royal Tenenbaums; of course, for many reasons it will also be easy to dislike it. This is a film that will really depend on your perceptions, and whether or not you either choose to like or dislike it; really, that you are pretty much able to choose as such is remarkable of the film in question. I chose to like it, and I did, and I think if you’re willing to, you will as well.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10