You likely know the feeling - your crush enters the room and instantly your surroundings slow to a buzzing halt. Clammy-palmed and panting, you grasp for words that seem to have floated into the air, forever out of reach. Everything is fuzzy and perfect in that moment, because you are fixated on the one you admire. In that pulsating slice of heaven, nothing else matters.
That’s how I feel when I watch a Wes Anderson film. It might be attributed to the soothing voice of Seu Jorge, who pleasantly strums songs by the magnificent David Bowie, or the witty repartee between Bill Murray and Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Anjelica Huston, et al.
It could be found in a family of cunning foxes dancing to The Bobby Fuller Four, or an intimate moment shared between young star-crossed lovers, involving a bloody fishing hook and a swollen ear. Or an idiosyncratic hotel concierge and his earnestly ardent lobby boy meandering through wild murder mysteries in the most comical ways. Or the slowed movements of a depressed, enigmatic, cigarette-wielding playwright sister as she glides to the guttural hum of The Velvet Underground's, Nico.
I let the expertly crafted Andersonian scenes pull me in, and suddenly I’m transfixed in an alternate reality that is equal parts quirk and vividness. This world contains the same mishaps and emotions us civilians experience, but amidst Anderson’s magical creations everything seems brighter; not simply due to over-saturated color schemes, but in the way he makes difficult yet incredibly relevant topics such as suicide and depression (as portrayed in The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Darjeeling Limited), seem endurable, and even hopeful. More importantly, embracing and normalizing these themes gives those who struggle with similar issues reason to feel that they aren’t alone in their strife.
That could be what lies at the root of my eternal Wes Anderson fangirldom. Heavy, thought-provoking issues are presented in fantastical packaging, yet beneath the impossibly colorful, luminescent landscape, are people just like you and me, navigating relationships with the unlikeliest of companions, and exploring the boundaries of their own psyche.
I realized the other day that in many ways I identify with Max Fischer from Rushmore. What could a thirty year old woman have in common with a self-destructive, hobby-obsessed high-school student who is in love with a teacher and finds joy in tearing apart her relationship with a dad of twin boys at his school? I'm glad you asked...
I discovered something I suppose I've always subconsciously known - I constantly feel driven to chase various hobbies to experience the differing layers of life in whatever ways I can. This is a concept that Max embraces. Sure, his actions may at times seem troubled and purposeless (i.e.: attempting to build an aquarium on top of his school's baseball field), though you can't help but appreciate the charming naiveté of his attempts at grand gestures targeted at Ms. Cross, a.k.a., his "Rushmore."
Writing is my "Rushmore" - it is the cause I will follow into the dark, with unbridled fervor until the end of my days. I think Max would appreciate my sentiments and approve of such extreme dedication.
By the end of Rushmore, Max focuses on playwriting as his new "Rushmore," instead of concentrating that energy on Ms. Cross, who will never be his. This Anderson classic teaches us to follow our heart, though perhaps channel our energy and passion towards creation, not destruction. I can dig that.