FT Top 100 Films
75: Rushmore

I love Wes Anderson, but his films don’t appeal to everyone. This probably stands or falls for most on whether they find Max, a brilliant but troubled teen played superbly by Jason Schwartzman, tolerable and believable. I did, but some loathed him, and his manipulative, almost psychotic behaviour in the middle of the film, isn’t easy to take comfortably. It’s a fairly lightweight film (that may be all that Wes can do, and that’s okay with me), and if you dislike the film’s centre, even Bill Murray’s best acting performance ever, a finely judged blend of childishness and middle-aged disillusionment, probably can’t save the movie for you.

So why do I love it? There’s the much-discussed bonus of Anderson’s brilliant way with soundtrack choices (I was reminded of the ending of this a couple of hours ago, when I was listening to the Faces’ ‘Ooh La La’), but the main thing is the subtlety and sensitivity of so many scenes, dealing with the turmoils of growing up with brilliant insight, restraint and wit. It is of course a very funny film, especially in the early scenes and in many small, modest moments, but the story complications towards the end do limit the laughs some, and many of its final scenes are less convincing than most of the film. Rushmore will never be remembered as a major movie, but as minor early movies (in what I expect will be a genuinely stellar career) go, it’s a wonderful one.