March 8, London: I saw Rushmore for the first time as a film student and I can’t imagine a more pleasurable way of being in which to first see this movie. It is so satisfyingly the work of an auteur, a word I probably learned the year I saw this movie. The music, the mise-en-scene, the script, it’s all perfect. Every frame is a perfect composition, a tableau of quirk. Even the editing inspires envy and emulation; I think every film student my year at some point has delivered their version of that montage of Max’s clubs set to “Making Time”.
The script is perfect. The over-formal dialogue that dominates, that fits Fisher and the boarding school setting to a tee. But yet, when Wes Anderson (and Owen Wilson!) breaks that setting he does it with flair. In all of his early scenes with Herman Blume (Bill Murray), Max Fisher is incredibly formal and deferential. But then when they’re talking about Vietnam, that formality slips suddenly for a surprising couplet:
Max: Were you in the shit?
Herman: Yeah, I was in the shit.
Murray’s delivery here is perfect. The blunt, unsurprised response to an absolutely surprising delivery from Schwartzman. That brings me to Bill Murray, whose journey into despair holds this film together. I love him so deeply in this film, I couldn’t help but think to myself the entire time how incredibly lucky Anderson was to snag him for Rushmore. The film wouldn’t have been possible without him.