Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What's the secret, Max?

Rushmore- it’s a fan favorite. Like Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore is a coming of age story. Max Fischer, fifteen, is trying to find his way in the world of adulthood by grappling with the reality of what love, family, and having friends truly is.  We meet him as he is failing out of his dream school, Rushmore Academy, and falling in love with, and becoming increasingly fixated on and obsessed with, the elementary school teacher who works there.

Max is a quirky character completely driven by emotion. He’s at the age where he tries to act cool and be independent, but doesn’t quite know how.He is terrified on not living up to the expectations his mother, now dead, held for him, and so he has his hands in almost every club in Rushmore, and is an especially avid play writer.

Max treats adults as equals. This attracts Blume, a millionaire who is going through his mid-life crisis (after realizing that his marriage amounts to nothing and that his sons are disrespectable and immature). He finds Max’s ambition and confidence a reminder of how he used to feel. He looks up to Max, even though, throughout the movie, he begins to realize that Max’s confident demeanor is just a facade to hide his insecurity. Max is still just a kid, not the adult Blume believes him to be.

Ms. Cross, the holder of Max’s affection, is recovering from her husband’s death just the year before. She is romanticized in Max’s view, which gives her a story-book feel. She find’s Max both entertaining and dangerous (he does not hide his interest). After the first time they meet, Max revives Latin to impress her. With the help of Blume, he decides to go a step further and create a school aquarium after learning about her interest in fish. This exploit gets him thrown out of Rushmore.

With Blume, Ms. Cross, and his friend Dirk Calloway, Max creates a ragtag gang- the family he never really had. However, it doesn’t last long. After Dirk is betrayed by Max, he spills the beans that Blume and Cross are having an affair. Thus begins Max’s rapid decline in his search for revenge. All is fair in love and war.

Like all good stories, there’s a happy, though rocky, ending. Max, even though having been expelled from two schools, arrested, and losing the fragile stability he had created with Ms. Cross, Blume, and Dirk, finds love and friendship again.
Rushmore feels like Anderson’s first official film (Bottle Rocket is his real first) you can tell that his style develops throughout Rushmore. With meticulous attention to detail, filming techniques that make each scene look like a play, breezy pop transitions, melancholic humor, and very real character interaction, Anderson succeeds in creating an aesthetically pleasing and dream-like, yet realistically convincing, film that audiences adore.