Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou

This is probably the second or third best film of the year. Not that this year has made that much of a contest, but still. Wes Anderson pulls out all the stops in this surrealist exploration of the life of too-real explorer Steve Zissou, a Jacques Cousteau-manque who has fallen on hard times. Discovering that he has a son (Owen Wilson), an enormous debt and a loss of meaning, he sets to sea in order to kill or capture or maybe just wrestle with the shark that killed his best friend. Psychedelic fish, stagey action sequences and unnatural performances create a distancing effect which makes the emotional content of the film all the more real. Notable not only for great performances by Bill Murray as Zissou, Wilson as his son and Anjelica Huston as his wife, but also for a truly thoughtful synergy in writing, directing and performance styles that create a seamless other-world. Not for those who like the simplistic pseudo-sincerity of church and state, but if you’re inclined to see an art film with real art instead of faux feelings, then you really shouldn’t miss Life Aquatic. It’s the film Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp and Marcel Proust would have made if only they could have stopped fighting over that last piece of glowing, undulating, talking tuna fish.

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