The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Film, Action and adventure
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The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
The most peculiar entry, or perhaps just the laziest, in David Thomson’s ‘New Biographical Dictionary of Film’ is for Wes Anderson, and reads in full: ‘Watch this space. What does that mean? That he might be something one day.’ Anderson partisans may safely argue that the 35-year-old is quite something already: an endearingly fussy craftsman of droll, melancholy comedies that dissect the vicissitudes of friendship and family ties, unfolding within hermetic Cornell-box worlds of vintage pop and meticulously nostalgic art design. Alas, Anderson’s fourth feature (the product of a hard winter’s shoot in Italy) may do little to correct Thomson’s irresolution. Despite its typically painstaking attentions to elaborate set dressings and assignations of quirk, ‘The Life Aquatic’ meanders and stalls in its journeys with ocean explorer Steve Zissou (Bill Murray), a down-at-heel Cousteau-manqué pursuing a filmed revenge mission against the jaguar shark who devoured his best friend.

Suffused with lush yet faded primary colours like a 30-year-old Kodak snap and spiced with Henry Selick’s stop-motion animations and a starry (if often idle) cast of supporting players, ‘The Life Aquatic’ is a beautifully appointed but airless dollhouse-by-the-sea, populated by wistful figurines in their matching little red caps and Team Zissou Adidas, and scored to Seu Jorge’s deckside acoustic renditions of Bowie songs in Portuguese. The movie pokes along in a manner at once listless and affable, like a series of semi-improvised outtakes that didn’t quite gel. And yet the director magically conjures emotional dividends in the film’s invigorating last moments, which wordlessly celebrate an underrated and truly Andersonian virtue: solidarity.

By: JWin

Release details

Rated: 15
Release date: Friday February 18 2005
Duration: 118 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Michael Gambon
Bill Murray
Owen Wilson
Jeff Goldblum
Willem Dafoe
Anjelica Huston
Cate Blanchett
Bud Cort

Average User Rating

1 / 5

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Kirsty E

A very odd film that we found surprisingly appealing. Granted, we may be biased as we saw this in a rubber dinghy at Brockwell Lido!! There are a lot of stars in this film, but to be honest we hadn't even heard of it before booking the Luna Cinema tickets. Quirky and intriguing, though a little slow in parts, I would stay this is still worth a watch. Bill Murray is fab as always, with his dry humour and stiff demeanour. It really reminded me of The Grand Budapest Hotel in it's weirdness, so if you liked that, I am sure you will love this!


This is one of the most disapointing films I ever saw. I was bored stiff and kept waiting for it to get better but it never did. Crap. Dont go.

E A Dobson

I had enjoyed Bottle Rocket,Rushmore & The Royal Tenenbaums but this fourth film by Wes Anderson is absolute garbage! So much so i gave his next film,The Darjeeling Limited,a miss altogether.