Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Royal Tenenbaums

So, usually this an area that I use to smash fashion items, fashion trends and anything to do with recent catwalk developments. However lately I thought I'd branch out and write about other areas of the arts that occupy my ever roaming and flitting mind.
This week boys and girls, again, it's a film review. More I'm climbing up the arse of this film and telling you all what it looks like from up there. It's beautiful first off. This film has swiftly become one of my very favourites and I was lucky enough that it came at a perfect time. I've recently returned from italy and whilst there I read J.D Salinger's 'Franny and Zooey', (so I guess this also slightly a book review also). The book's story, in a nut shell, is that of a family of geniuses. At the start of Tenenbaums it features the book written by the mother 'A Family of Geniuses'. The similarities don't end here and i feel I ought to speak a bit about the genius of the book before comparing it to this new found film. Franny and Zooey are brother and sister who have grown up under the wings of their older brothers Buddy and Seymour, spiritual oddballs who have thrived and encouraged their siblings, and their own, genius and isolation from others. Their sheer intelligence has ensured, throughout their lives, that they have felt seperated and, almost, of a seperate kind to the general public. This results in Franny having a breakdown and seeking solace in a book of religion and the book mainly chronicles the conversations about this book and both of their spiritual journeys between Franny and Zooey.
The film is a little different but just as genius. It follows the lives of the Tenenbaum family: Etheline (mother), Chas, Richie, Margot (children) and their estranged father Royal. They have all grown up under the influence of their mother who has always put their education first. This ensures that from an early age they are exposed to the world of literature, sport and business and quickly become pioneers of these areas. Margot is a playwright, Richie a professional tennis player and Chas a mouse breeder and a genius in the area of finance and business.
However with the estrangement of their father they become divided and depressed and they all, much like the book, find it very hard to socialise and become close with other people.
All except for Eli Cash, the neighbour, who they have grown up with and has been the best friend of Richie from a very early age.
There's something beautifully personal about the film and I feel the reason I love it so much is that it seems as though it should have been a book first. The depth in which the idiosyncracies of the characters are developed leave the audience feeling part of the Tenenbaum family. As if we've grown with them throughout the film.
The soundtrack is also something beautiful to be behold. From Nico to Lou reed to The Ramoes 'Judy is a punk'. Throughout the film, and for the subsequent several watches of it, I didn't seem to be able to place the film in a time period. The dated technology in the film, including cameras and televisions, and the fashion sense of the children and mother, seem to suggest that the film is of a previous decade, perhaps the 1970's. This is triggered mainly by Margot. From a purely fashion-self-indulgent point of view it's worth watching the film just for her. Gwyneth Paltrow portrays this character with such delicacy and isolation that she quickly became my favourite. She is depicted, from an early age, sporting Lacoste sports dresses, patent loafers and her famous fur coat which she seems to wear all year round. This has resulted in me never taking off my own loafers and praying for a cold day to wear my faux fur. I've also ordered a lacoste dress off ebay. BUT less of my own chronicles of fashion. Back to the film.
The cinematography is stunning and everything, from the textures of the strange gypsy cabs, to the colours in the beautiful Tenenbaum house, there seems to be a very tactile sense to the film and we're always engaged with the trinkets and symbols of the house and the characters.
Each character seems to have a prop that sums them up or introduces a character trait to the audience. Margot is constantly smoking in private, as she's 'known for her secrecy', Chas a stop watch as he's obsessed with the safety of his children and constantly acts out drills for various disasters and Richie his dark sunglasses and tennis clothing.
Over all, at the risk of ranting about every detail of the film, there's something very touching and heart warming about the film and, also at the risk of giving things away, you'll simply have to watch it for yourself. And here's hoping you desparately want to be a Tenenbaum also, because after all, who wouldn't?
margot tenenbaum Pictures, Images and Photos

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