Watch This Space Film Magazine Issue 2 | Page 8

Review The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) Written by Chris Watt THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU is an ode to the late oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. From the red hats that adorn the heads of the crew of the battered ship Belafonte, to Bill Murray's loveable, though unravelling leading character Steve Zissou, the notion of ocean exploration makes for a charming backdrop to what could best be described as a domestic drama. For all the sharks, jellyfish, gun fights, explosions and helicopters, what resonates most is the character drama unfolding before us. This goes for almost all of Anderson's work, which has always felt, for this reviewer at least, like a trippy mix of Hal Ashby and Mike Nichols. The story, written by Anderson with Noah Baumbach, sees Zissou embark on one final mission, aided by a devoted, if weary crew of misfits. The fly in the ointment comes in the shape of Ned (Owen Wilson), who may, or may not be Zissou's illegitemate son. Murray gives, arguably, his most restrained, tormented performance here. Zissou is all washed up, a failure as a leader, husband and father. "I'm right on the edge. I don't know what comes next." Murray is a master at delivering a line, yet never gets enough credit for his physicality. Think of that sprint he bursts into, out of the blue, during a quieter moment in RUSHMORE, or that exceptional moment as he whispers in Scarlett Johannson's ear at the close of LOST IN TRANSLATION, before giddily walking away like a schoolboy. His Zissou is a wheelhouse of tics and grimaces, genuinely unnerving at