What's Wrong With Wes Anderson?

A decade after Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums, Generation Y's anointed auteur tries for a comeback with Fantastic Mr. Fox.

I'm not sure why Anderson's recent movies have gone badly. All seem like different expressions of an artist's singular voice — each unique in its own way yet instantly recognizable as an Anderson film.

There's a scene in The Darjeeling Limited that crystallizes that voice and the deep, inchoate weltschmerz Anderson seems to have been grappling with since Bottle Rocket. In it, the lovely train attendant with whom Schwartzman's Jack (as in Nicholson) has become infatuated asks him, "What is wrong with you?" as he and his brothers are being kicked off the train.

"Let me think about that. I'll tell you next time I see you," Jack replies, staring after her as the train pulls away.

"I feel like, 'What's wrong with you?' — that could almost be addressed to practically my entire circle of friends," Anderson says. "The world is saying that to us, 'What's wrong with you?' When you ask me, 'What are you grappling with?' That's more or less. ..." He pauses and laughs. "Let me think about it and I'll tell you the next time I see you. I don't really know, but it's kind of vast enough that you can sink your teeth into it."

We say our good-byes, and I wonder as I drive north on a tidy side street if it'll be another 10 years before he can tell me. Then, I see a figure striding through the Beverly Hills flats with the late-afternoon sun reflecting off his corduroy suit like it would a shield. There are no people anywhere and the trees are little and white and the Spanish-style houses are little and white and the yards are precisely manicured. There's nothing out of the ordinary going on here, other than somebody walking in L.A. And yet, for some reason, the whole thing strikes me as the loneliest thing on Earth. I pull over and ask if he wants a lift.

He does.

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