Top 10: Most Complex Wes Anderson Characters
Wes Anderson has directed seven films in his career. Of those films he has also written them (most of the time with a co-writer). All seven of these films have similar things in common, from their symmetrical shots to their color palettes. A common theme in a Wes Anderson film is dysfunctional characters.
Each character is layered in a way that they are suffering from some case of minor mental illness. Characters experience neurotic and unconventional behavior through these illnesses which can consist of bipolar disorder, depression, and a variety of social disorders. I am no psychiatrist, so I couldn’t simply tell you a diagnoses of each characters illness.
This illness within the main protagonists doesn’t mean we will find ourselves immersed in drama. Wes Anderson films are comedies and explore quirkiness around the manner of these illnesses. The more in-depth the illness is the more complex the character is. So without further ado, here is The Media 10’s Top 10 list for the most complex Wes Anderson characters:
10 – Chas Tenenbaum (Ben Stiller) – The Royal Tenenbaums
We are given a brief history in the movie about the intelligence of this character and how he grew up, suing his father at an young age even. In his adult life, we see that he lost his wife in a plane crash and has now become over protective of his two children.
09 – Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) – Moonrise Kingdom
Captain Sharp is most likely a victim of depression in the movie. I don’t think anyone expected that this would be the most complex character in the movie, but he is the one who we see drunk on the floor and finding a mysterious solace in Sam, the films young protagonist.
08 – Dignan (Owen Wilson) – Bottle Rocket
It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly is going on with this man. He is obsessive compulsive and can’t imagine a life away from crime. In the films semi-bitter ending you feel like even though the fate of this character has fallen, he is in the place he wanted to be, physically and mentally.
07 – Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) – The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Where do I start? A washed up old man down on his luck. Steve Zissou was such a depressing character, and not only because he is depressed. He mistreats people often, and a lot of critics found it very difficult to care for him. Seeking vengeance, with a dying career and a broken marriage, Zissou comes to a deep realization in the final moments of the film, which I consider one of the best movie scenes of all-time.
06 – Herman Blume (Bill Murray) – Rushmore
There is a scene in the movie during a birthday party where we get a good idea of who this man is. No words are spoken, he simply drinks, smokes and dives into a vacant, dirty pool with no physical connection with his ex-wife or anyone at the party. He is the villain of the movie, but has much more going on personally than that.
05 – Richie Tenenbaum (Luke Wilson) – The Royal Tenenbaums
With all his overgrown facial hair, Richie Tenenbaum has fallen on hard times. Played professional tennis until he had a major meltdown after seeing his adopted sister with another man. Then after realizing more of her misdeeds he attempts suicide in a shocking moment.
04 – Mr. Fox (George Clooney) – Fantastic Mr. Fox
You can sort of classify what Mr. Fox is going through as a mid-life crisis. However he endangers his whole family and even his whole neighborhood to please his selfish needs. The films title character has more complexities than many title children film characters, but finds solace in a few final beautifully crafted scenes.
03 – Francis Whitman (Owen Wilson) – The Darjeeling Limited
From the moment we meet this character, all covered in bandages, we realize how neurotic he can be; constantly making itineraries and over-planning. He is the brother who tries to hold everything together and can’t stand the thought of things not going to plan. We are later reveled that his accident was intentional, opening the realization that he is bringing his family together because he is fighting for self-survival.
02 – Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman) – The Royal Tenenbaums
The performance got Hackman a globe nomination. Royal Tenenbaum is incredible self-centered and has a deep mistrust for his family. So much that he feels the need to trick them to get their money after being kicked out of a hotel. Halfway through the film he reaches a self-realization, but has burned too many bridges, eventually his family is so damaged that they realize they need him just as much.
01 – Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman) – Rushmore
Obsessed with his extra-curricular activities, Max Fischer finds himself in love. As socially inept as he is, he falls for a teacher and over does everything to get her. There is a dinner scene where the teacher brings a date to his play, and during the dinner Max throws a temper tantrum which seems to indicate a possible minor case of Aspergers. This behavior is exasperated when one of his newfound adult idols goes after the teacher he is in love with.