When it comes to director Wes Anderson’s work I’m a bit of an agnostic. Some of his films I really enjoy like his animated films, with The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom being my favorites. Then there are others which I am more lukewarm on like Rushmore and The French Dispatch. This month’s Blind Spot entry belongs in the latter with The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. It has some of Anderson’s quirky style but I mostly found it dull without an engaging story.
This film centers on Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) of the title who leads his eccentric group of explorers under the sea to film nature documentaries like a Jacques Cousteau type of character.
Included in the crew is Zissou’s estranged wife Eleanor (Anjelica Houston), his son Ned (Owen Wilson) and a pregnant reporter covering the shoot named Jane (Cate Blanchett), among many other characters (Willem Dafoe, Jeff Golblum, Michael Gambon and more all have small roles on the ship).
For his latest documentary, Zissou is trying to hunt down a “jaguar shark” that killed his friend Esteban. Unfortunately, Anderson’s script meanders away from this central plot too often making it hard to stay invested. To be frank, I tried watching the film 3 times and each time found myself fighting sleep and I wasn’t that tired. The story just didn’t do it for me.
The production design of the ship is impressive and the cinematography by Robert Yeoman is full of whimsy but none of that matters if the story isn’t interesting. Same goes for the performances which are all well done.
I would recommend one of Anderson’s other films over this one like Moonrise Kingdom or Fantastic Mr Fox. Those have far better stories than this underwater tale.
4 out of 10
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