Anderson been hailed as one of the most original and exciting filmmakers of his film-literate 'indie’ wunderkind generation.
Among his cinematic influences he cites Indian director Satyajit Ray (to whom he dedicated Darjeeling Limited), and French masters Francois Truffaut, Jean Renoir and Louis Malle.
But what makes Anderson’s work so distinctive is the deadpan wryness and quirkiness, the unexpected realism of the dialogue, the comic pathos that he injects into his humanism. This 'calculated naivete," as it’s been described by some critics, elicits tonal comparisons to literary great J.D. Salinger (Catcher in the Rye) whose inspiration has also been the dysfunctional, unorthodox family.
His movies are peopled by damaged characters searching for meaning and intimacy (even redemption), addressing failure and regret, working through pain and grief to the accompaniment of vibrant music sound tracks that assault the senses on conscious and subconscious levels.
Anderson began modestly enough collaborating with University of Texas pal actor Owen Wilson on a 14-minute short Bottle Rocket (1992), a story about friendship and petty crime based on the duo’s personal experiences. It screened at Sundance where the pair managed to raise finance to make it into a feature (1996).
Anderson found cult and critical success with his edgy, darker second feature, Rushmore (1998), about the desperation to break into friendships with the elite clique. But it was Oscar nominated The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), a story about child prodigies who never reach their potential, that catapulted him into the big league.
But his signature style, trademark slow motion endings and offbeat characters are an acquired taste which can, as in the case of Bill Murray starrer Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, divide audiences, even his own fans.
The recent The Darjeeling Limited (2007), features a trio of squabbling brothers attempting a reconciliation following their father’s death on a train trip across India. The cathartic journey, with Louis Vuitton baggage in metaphoric role, takes an unexpected direction.
Despite thematic recurrences in his movies, Anderson is determined not to be pigeonholed. His next venture, an animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, The Fantastic Mr Fox (2009), voiced by Cate Blanchett, George Clooney (along with his regular collaborators Bill Murray, Angelica Huston and Jason Schwartzman), is likely to take him to new realms and win new fans.
– Mary Colbert