26 May 2012 4:10 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Wes Anderson's most ambitious movie yet explores a community divided and reunited in 1960s New England

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Wes Anderson's films – seven of them since his debut with Bottle Rocket in 1996 – constitute a consistent oeuvre. They're comedies tinged with a certain tragic sense of life. Various actors recur, most notably Jason Schwartzman as a geeky young man, Luke Wilson as a quirky thirtysomething and Bill Murray as a middle-aged curmudgeon. The films pursue groups of eccentric figures who make up families of a kind generally characterised as "dysfunctional", invariably attracting references to Tolstoy's dubious claim that happy families are all alike and unhappy families are unhappy in their different ways. They're also exquisitely composed and lit and accompanied by an interesting, often surprising choice of music.

Initially I had reservations over Anderson's whimsicality and wilful cultivation of the irrational. I was »

- Philip French

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