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It took a while for me to warm to Wes Anderson and his films. It’s not that I didn’t see his talent for mise-en-scène; that has always been obvious. It’s that I found his characters and their quirks grating rather than charming. I did not enjoy spending time with the Tenenbaum family, I didn’t want to hang out with Steve Zissou and his crew. And when the films veered towards tragedy, I found them too affected to care, too smugly self-conscious and twee.
It was only with The Fantastic Mr Fox that I learnt to enjoy a Wes Anderson film, not for individual parts but as a work in its entirety – and oddly, it took the more sustained artifice of latter Anderson for me to connect to the underlying emotion as something real. It was therefore with some trepidation that I approached Rushmore, Anderson’s second feature film, which I expected to be closer to the films that would follow it, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic, in style and tone. And it is – though it has some interesting quirks of its own, among them an awareness of the limitations and annoyances of The Life Andersonian.