Rushmore / Wes Anderson / 1998 / fivestar

Active Ingredients: Mix of humor and tenderness; Bill Murray; Detailed design
Side Effects: Perhaps too sweet for some

Everyone needs his own passion, his “Rushmore”. Without a purpose, even an unhealthy obsession, we’d be lost. Beyond the characteristic quirk and indie style and sensibility of Wes Anderson’s film (by now endlessly imitated), lies a richly decorated and detailed world, full of humanity and populated by characters defined by the presence or absence of this one true passion. The trio of unlikely friends at the film’s heart—a smart alec highschooler, a mourning teacher and a depressed businessman—are each struggling to find their own Rushmore, and are looking for it in the wrong places.

Bill Murray’s brilliant performance as Herman epitomizes the pitch-perfect balance between humor and sadness that the film finds. Like the film, Murray doesn’t oscillate between comedy and pathos, he embodies both simultaneously. Anderson has an uncanny ability to echo this well-calibrated tone across all aspects of his film. His music choices, tableau-like framings and especially his costumes, set design and art direction, all contribute to the emotional effect of the film as a whole. Rushmore represents Anderson’s most cohesive and vibrant vision, full of tenderness, humor and passion.