[Last Film I Watched] Rushmore (1998)

Rushmore poster

Title: Rushmore
Year: 1998
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers:
Wes Anderson
Owen Wilson
Music: Mark Mothersbaugh
Cinematography: Robert D. Yeoman
Cast:
Jason Schwartzman
Bill Murray
Olivia Williams
Seymour Cassel
Brian Cox
Luke Wilson
Mason Gamble
Sara Tanaka
Stephen McCole
Connie Nielsen
Andrew Wilson
Rating: 7.3/10

Rushmore 1998

Wes Anderson’s sophomore feature, RUSHMORE is the name of an elite prep school in Houston, and our protagonist, a 15-year-old Max Fischer (Schwartzman), is the whip-smart prodigy in Rushmore, a high-school specimen of GOOD WILL HUNTING (1997), but only if it were true, that’s just a figment of his imagination in the film’s jaunty opening, in reality, he is a barber’s son, although, to hide his deep-down low self-confidence, Max brags about that his father is a successful surgeon. Max is granted entrance to Rushmore for his playwright talent, but he flunks in almost every major subject, while a plethora of extracurricular activities corroborates that Max is not made of scholarly material.

As a matter of fact, he is on the verge of being expelled from the school by the headmaster Dr. Guggenheim (Cox), but that doesn’t bother him too much, he befriends Herman Blume (Murray), the father of his objectionable twin classmates, an industrialist whose life is hemmed in a lull of disillusion. Also, reaching prepubescence lands him his first crush on the newly arrived first-grade teacher, Rosemary Cross (Williams), a widow from England, but she doesn’t reciprocate her feeling due to their age difference, and, spontaneously they remain in a mutually agreed friend zone.

Turning sour when Rosemary brings a date to his new school play, Max unveils his age-defying megalomaniac side which riles Rosemary and pours cold water on their budding affinity. Soon Max is as expected being expelled and enrolls into a public school, and falls out with his younger sidekick Dirk Calloway (Gamble). When he finds out Herman and Rosemary becomes an item, a puerile tit-for-tac game of sabotages kick-starts with the typical Anderson-esque moxie, sandwiched between those two man-children, one is too young and another is too old, and neither is proper to her taste, one does feel sorry for Ms. Cross. Luckily, in a well-intentioned move, Max writes a new play paying tribute to Herman’s Vietnam days, and finally, all the hatchets have been buried in the opening night of the play, Rushmore days are gone with the wind, Max finds an age-commensurate Asian girlfriend Margaret Young (Tanaka), Herman and Rosemary also reconcile.

Playing out Max’s defects and merits with deadpan but farcical felicity, a pint-size Schwartzman undergirds his stereotypical screen-persona in his screen-debut, self-consciously loquacious and obnoxiously self-centred. Bill Murray, whose stalled career has received a critical boost since he meets Anderson and becomes a prominent figure in the latter’s ever-expanding star-studded troupe, brings about what a great farceur can achieve, subtle humor saddled with immeasurable humanity, he is pitch-perfect. Olivia Williams, an incongruent English rose involuntarily gets involved with Anderson’s characteristic American levity and recklessness, instils a somewhat bracing air of wholesome sensibility.

The script is written by Anderson and Owen Wilson, and an indie-tinged soundtrack faithfully punctuates the narrative especially in its longueur, RUSHMORE is Anderson’s arch epigraph commemorating his unconventional youth and a launch pad of his distinctively quirky aesthetic pursuit, although in a primordial but prophetic fashion.

Oscar 1998  Rushmore

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