A Quick Note to Wes Anderson, a Great Filmmaker with a Spotty Track Record and Potential to Make a Masterpiece

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)
The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) (Photo credit: Bvu)

Hey Bro. I am fresh off Moonrise Kingdom and want to shoot a warning shot across your bow.

The film was a trifle but it had its moments. I am sure the cool kids in Brooklyn, Austin, L.A. and London loved it. But you are capable of making a much better movie and at this point in your career you really should have.

Your movie The Royal Tenenbaums is so very, very good. It is immediate and engaging and funny and warm and relatable and well crafted. Because of all those things, I would have no problem showing it to anyone, even someone who lived outside of a cool metro area.

Sure, it’s precious. It’s so well composed that it could be subtitled “film school teacher’s pet.” But it’s all in the purpose of something real and kind of important. The story is sad and elegiac and it’s about brothers and sisters and fathers, mothers, daughters and sons. It has weight and heft. Despite their designer consignment store clothes, the characters are fully realized.

Anyway. The whole movie is fussy as hell, but its precious cinematic composition was matched by its humanity. Sadly, your later movies have amped up the fussiness while dialing down the humanity. And that sadly reached a high watermark with Moonrise Kingdom.

You present 90 minutes of fussy composition in service of nothing.  You have two bratty (possible autistic?) children engage in a tepid romance while cartoonish adults fuss over them. They suffer from no danger and struggle through no real hardship in the story we see. The most dramatic event in the narrative—the kid losing his parents—happened years before the story we are presented.

There’s exactly one moment in MK that matches the raw emotional truth of Tenenbaums. The girl tells the boy that based on the books she’s read, she things orphans lead more interesting lives. The boy, an orphan, says “I love you, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.” It’s a moment that cuts through the precisely arranged cleverness that chokes the emotion out of the movie.  A whole, much better, movie exists in that sentence. Please make that movie.


Published by Mister Bulger

Adam Bulger is the editor in chief of BTRtoday.com and a frequent contributor to the parenting website Fatherly.com. He's also recently written for the wedding site ThePlunge.com and the college student aide Coursehero.com. Less recently, he's written for The Believer, Forbes, The Atlantic's website, Suicidegirls, Inked Magazine and probably about a dozen other places that are too obscure or defunct to bother listing.

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