I haven’t been feeling well lately, so I’ve been gravitating toward comfort books, the way people go for comfort food. I’m still reading To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust, and it’s excellent. It’s just so well written that it makes me really nervous about the tragic things I know are coming- (yes, I do get overly involved in my reading), and being sick and feeling super aprehensive don’t really go well together. So, I pulled out my can’t-make-me-nervous-since-I-know-every-word copy of the screenplay of The Royal Tenenbaums.
I love this story with a passion that’s difficult to explain really. I’ve watched the movie countless times, and read the screenplay a bunch, and it’s just a space I feel comfortable in. I don’t know if it’s the Salingeresque quality of the family that’s a little too sensitive to live in this world, or if the casting was just so perfect that these characters are alive to me. One aspect of it that really gets me- and it may in fact be why I love it so, is that it so captures the desire to go home, to be part of a family, to be understood.
I said after I saw The Life Aquatic that, “The one thing I thought was missing from The Royal Tenenbaums is that one blissful moment when everything clicks, when the epiphany hits.” I realized reading through this time that it doesn’t need one. The Life Aquatic is about one man’s search for meaning, The Royal Tenenbaums is about a family’s search for themselves. While there isn’t just one culminating moment, each character has a moment when their motivation, thought process, and relationship to everyone else becomes clear, and each of those moments makes me catch my breath. (These really could be up for debate, but these are the moments that define the characters for me.)
Royal: When he and Chas are discussing the BB that’s still in Chas’ hand from when Royal shot him, and Chas asks him why he did it. Royal says, “That was the point of the game wasn’t it?” and Chas reminds him, “We were on the same team.” Royal’s “We were?” sums up for me his whole dilemma of family.
Margot: Margot’s plantive, “Why are they allowed to do that?” in response to Etheline’s news that Chas and the boys will be moving back into the house captures her longing for home that’s evident despite her repeated running away.
Richie: After he comes back from the hospital, Margot and he lay in his tent. She asks if he tried to kill himself because of her, and he says, “Yeah, but it wasn’t your fault.” Richie is all about putting the rest of the family over himself- making decisions that are about them. But its always he who is making those decisions, he can’t blame anyone else.
Chas: When, after Royal saves the boys and buys them a dog, Chas finally realizes that he’s loved as much as Richie. His, “I’ve had a rough year, dad” is one of my favorite moments in movies.
Eli: Eli’s comes early in the movie (like Margot’s), but it really solidifies his character for me. It’s when he’s on the phone after his reading, and he asks Margot if she thinks he’s especially not a genius. After a pause, he says, “You didn’t even have to think about it did you?” All he wants is to be a Tenenbaum, and he knows he never will be.
Etheline: Etheline’s is when she finds out that Margot has been smoking for the last twenty-two years. Instead of getting mad, sad that she was decieved all this time, or anything else, she just cuts right to the chase with, “Well, I think you should quit”.
All I mean by all this rambling is that I really like this story. It makes me happy. I think I’m going to go read it again.
Current total: 28
Just Finished: The Royal Tenenbaums by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson
Currently Reading: To Reign in Hell by Steven Brust