Starring: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Olivia Williams, Brian Cox, Seymour Cassel, Mason Gamble, Sara Tanaka, Luke Wilson
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Synopsis: The king of Rushmore prep school is put on academic probation.
Wes Anderson’s first bona fide classic, following his low-key debut Bottle Rocket was 1997’s Rushmore. It featured an unknown lead actor, Jason Schwartzman and, in Bill Murray, a comedy great who was beginning a new chapter in his career.
The film centres on student Max Fisher, a prodigious talent at everything apart from school. He belongs to almost every society you can think of, yet his grades are terrible. He meets new teacher Miss Cross (Olivia Williams) and, despite being half her age, immediately falls for her. The trouble is, his new friend Herman Blume (Murray) also takes a shine to her. The fates of all three go awry, leading to some pretty funny moments throughout.
The first thing that struck me after watching Rushmore for the first time in a long time, was that it wasn’t quite plastered with full on Wes Anderson traits we have seen in his last few movies. Sure, this is where his style started to manifest itself, but it was still restrained in parts. Again, this would no doubt be down to budget constraints. It’s certainly all the better for it though. The film has everything. Humour, emotion, a great soundtrack and some perfect acting.
Schwartzman is absolutely brilliant as Max, stealing the show from his illustrious co-stars (although he is run pretty close by Bill Murray). To think he was unknown before this! Sometimes he is a despicable character, but then in the scenes with his father at his barber shop, he carries some real emotion around him. In fact, for anyone who says Anderson’s films contain no emotion, I would point to the scene where Max introduces his Dad to Herman. After telling Herman that his dad is a brain surgeon, he introduces them at his humble barber shop and it’s a lovely moment of a son accepting his father.
There are some classic moments and scenes here. The medley of revenge attacks between Max and Herman, to the sound of The Who’s “A Quick One” is inspired, as is the final dance at the end to the strains of The Faces “Ooh La La” with it’s “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger” lyric proving extremely fitting. It gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.
It’s not my favourite Wes Anderson film, The Royal Tenenbaums win’s by default because I saw it first, but Rushmore sure is an absolute modern classic, and a one of a kind.