At its core Rushmore is a story of unrequited love, romantic infatuation and social interaction. Everyone within the walls of this prep school are running from something.
My favourite Wes Anderson film remains The Royal Tenenbaums closely followed by The Grand Budapest Hotel. Anderson continues to be a unique voice in cinema taking characters with quintessential quirks, melancholy dispositions and romantic issues and shaping his films around them. As the years have passed and his vision has retained an unwavering freshness Anderson consistently skates a thin line between mainstream acceptance and arthouse chic. With the Blu-ray release of his second film Rushmore we have the opportunity to examine this early work yet again, which could potentially open up Anderson’s back catalogue to a new generation.
Not only did Rushmore properly introduce the world to Wes Anderson but it also gave us Jason Schwartzman, who some may remember from Saving Mr.Banks. Legend has it that the filmmakers spent over twelve months and went through numerous casting calls before finding their Max Fischer. Academic under achiever, prep school dramatist and founding member of almost every student society at Rushmore, finding Schwartzman proved crucial to making everything work. Second on the wish list was Bill Murray who plays millionaire Herman Blume who bonds with Max early on and opens his eyes to a life he has become disinterested in.
This is the first time Murray branched out into seriously dramatic fare since his early efforts in Where The Buffalo Roam. You can also see the first inklings of what he would bring to Sofia Coppola’s Lost In Translation some years later. Murray gives such an understated performance that you sometimes feel he is doing nothing at all. Completely at ease on screen his comedic contributions are subtle, savage and tinged with a sadness which few actors can emulate. Such was the impact Murray had on Rushmore that this would begin an on-off collaboration between both men which continues today, similar in many respects to the relationship between Christopher Nolan and Michael Caine.
At its core Rushmore is a story of unrequited love, romantic infatuation and social interaction. Everyone within the walls of this prep school are running from something. Detachment issues both emotional and social are addressed which although painful are layered with pathos and moments of true tenderness. Schwartzman, Murray and Olivia Williams form the three elements of a love triangle while Brian Cox plays well in a peripheral role. It is essentially the ensemble element which Anderson draws from his actors in conjunction with the writing that brings Rushmore to life. With an enduring visual style and distinct approach to character dialogue, this film will please existing fans, maybe make some new ones and reaffirm Anderson’s importance for cinema to any naysayers.
Written by Martin Carr
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Written by: Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson
Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Olivia Williams, Bill Murray, Seymour Cassel, Mason Gamble
Rushmore was released on Blu-ray by Criterion on October 29 in the UK.