Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Movie Review by Neils Hesse

Starring: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Huston, Willem Dafoe
Director: Wes Anderson

Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) is a daring underwater explorer / legendary documentary maker and of course he and his adventures are the subject of all his documentaries. When we first meet Steve he is just returning from a disastrous mission that saw him lose his best friend and fellow adventurer to a mysterious underwater creature, which he decides to call a ‘jaguar shark’. Steve is hell bent on returning to the ocean and tracking down this creature so off he goes with his usual crew, but this time he is accompanied by a young man called Ned (Owen Wilson) claiming to be his son, a journalist (Cate Blanchett) and a bond company employee (Bud Cort). As Steve goes on with his expedition it soon turns out to be much more epic than any of his previous endeavors.

Wes Anderson is renowned for the idiosyncratic characters he develops for his movies from RUSHMORE, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS and now this underwater marvel. Partly inspired by the famous Jacques Cousteau documentaries, Wes has crafted a web of quirky humour and wonderfully eccentric yet laid back characters into a weirdly entertaining film.

Bill Murray is perfect in his role as Steve Zissou. He amusingly embodies a gruff, foolhardy, overly confident, sea faring captain who is part narcissist and part adventurer but an all round good guy. Just the sight of him in a blue wet suit dancing away to some very retro disco beat is worth the ticket price alone.

Willem Dafoe also stands out as an extremely hilariously loyal German crew member of Team Zissou, while Michael Gambon is equally adept as Zissou’s documentary producer. With a cast that also includes Anjelica Huston and Jeff Goldblum amongst others, the performances are all expertly and amusingly executed.

This is a funny movie but as I mentioned earlier it is quirky so it may not appeal to a wide audience. This is one underwater ride that I personally enjoyed.

4 out of 6 stars

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