Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

Director: Wes Anderson
Writers:  Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson
Cast:       Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Bill Murray, Gwyneth Paltrow, Bel Stiller, Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, Kumar Pallana

Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) has been an insensitive asshole (in his own words) all  his life and he is banished from his family. Tenenbaums have three children of which one is adopted, Margot played by Gwyneth Paltrow. The other two are Chas played by Ben Stiller and Richie played by Luke Wilson. All of them were considered as kid geniuses growing up but they didn't live up to the expectations in their adult lives. Richie is in love with Margot who is unhappily married to Neurologist/Scientist Raleigh St. Clair (Bill Murray). Royal is broke and he decides to cook up a cancer story to get his place back in his family even as they are united after a long time under one roof. 

Royal Tenenbaums was Wes Anderson's much anticipated follow up to 'Rushmore' and it didn't disappoint, and ran away to become a commercial and critical success. Wes Anserson films are not for everyone and many people don't get the charm of his unique settings and absurd humor. For his fans his films are a much anticipated event in the film calendar. His latest film 'Grand Budapest Hotel' has been also very well received and I can't wait to see it. It has got Ralph Fiennes added to the Wes Anderson family along with the usual suspects.The only film of his that I didn't particularly like was 'Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou' and I have been meaning to revisit it for some time.

Royal Tenenbaums is among Gene Hackman's last few films and is certainly his last great one. Kumar Pallana, who died recently, is a regular fixture in Wes Anderson's films and here he plays the role of family butler. He was a hired assassin in Calcutta who ended up saving Royal's life after stabbing him in the gut. Wes Anderson's love for India is no secret and it can be seen in the TV footage of Richie's tennis match choke against a player named Gandhi who beat him 6-0, 6-0 & 6-0. No one realized that Richie's choke was because of his heart being broken after Margot's marriage  the previous day. Chas was a highly successful businessman as a kid and he ended up expropriating his father's wealth. Margot was a playwright and Royal's frank but insensitive assessment of his adopted daughter's (one fact he never fails to mention) debut play was the reason he was kicked out from his family's life for good. The final scene shows Royal's epitaph which was inscribed thus upon his own insistence: 'Here lies Royal Tenenbaum who died saving his family from the wreckage of a destroyed sinking battleship'.

Royal Tenenbaum is my favorite Wes Anderson film along with Rushmore. I hope I could add 'Grand Budapest Hotel' to the above list.

Rating: 5/5