The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou
Directed By Wes Anderson
Depending on your view point of bizarre, this film could be the barmiest film on the list, if not the most surprising. I hate using this term, but The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou is a quirky old film. Well, it’s not old, it’s from 2004, but it’s certainly quirky.
Bill Murray plays Steve Zissou, a famous oceanogrpaher and documentray maker. On his last mission, his best friend and companion Esteban was eaten by a “Jaguar Shark” So he proposes to hunt down and kill the creature and capture it for his next documentary. However, things are not all peachy. Zissou and his wife (Anjelica Huston) aren’t currently in the best situation and Zissou is feeling pressured from his rivalry with fellow Oceaonographer Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum). To add to this, he’s joined on the journey by a prgnant journalist (Cate Blanchet) and Ned, a man who claims to be his son, (Owen Wilson) Which adds to a messy, delightful mesh of personalities.
Of course, that’s not all, Zissou has an ecleptic crew, invovling a man who spends all day singing David Bowie songs in portugese and Klaus (William Dafoe) a man jealous of Steve’s new found appreciation for Ned. While this all may add up to create a gritty tense soap opera, Anderson makes sure it stays lighthearted all the way thorugh. Even when they get abducted by pirates it still feels fun and bouncy.
The film contains some glorious moments, the beginning and end are both beautifully and tastefully shot considering they both revolve around death. Plus the scene where they rescue the corporate stooge and in the hotel is genius, but then like all good films, it knows it’s limits. Ned’s death is tragic and unexpected and the final scene where they get to the jaguar shark is beautiful, every major cast member is there and Bill Murray delievers an incredible speech. It’s a well shot, well executed gem. Plus not to mention there’s David Bowie songs throughout, which can never be a bad thing…
The film is definitely Wes Anderson’s finest, there’s some little detail put into it, the model making, the casting (Bill Murray is at his deadpan best here) and it’s chock full of great little references to Anderson’s earlier work and literature, there’s blatent tributes to Moby Dick, The Great Gatsby and Bottle Rocket, not to mention a reference to Calypso music with the ships name “Belafonte” It just makes an already delightful film more delightful.