Secondly, Chas Tenenbaum - Stressed out, a ball of rage and fury. Sounds familiar? For the majority of the film I find Chas really annoying. In the same way that I find all of Ben Stiller's 'Angry Man' comedy annoying. However, where he is different is that Chas is a deeply disturbed and multi faceted character. He is dealing with the death of his wife (and subsequently seems to have both safety paranoia and survivors guilt), he is dealing with the feeling that his father doesn't like him and is jealous of the relationship between his father and his younger brother.
- She is married
- She is Richie's sister (adopted....)
Richie is horrifically depressed. His inability to handle his feelings. gives the film some of it's bleakest moments.
Firstly, the footage of a tennis game the day after Margot and Walter marry. He slowly has a breakdown, removing his shoes and one of his socks before sitting down on the court and bursting into tears.
Secondly, his attempted suicide. This is a naturally disturbing scene and is interestingly filmed completely differently from the rest of the film.
Horrified by hearing about the number of affairs and secrets Margot has hidden, Richie goes to the bathroom, cuts his hair, his beard, his wrists. Firstly the film breaks away from the rich colours and complex patterns which make up most of the film and offers only a stark blue light, giving the scene a cold and clinical feel. Secondly the scene is in fractured moments rather than a continuous narrative.
The pretentious part of me wants to say that the fractured structure matches the fractured nature of Richie's mind and it is true that after his suicide he becomes a lot more zen. However his attempted suicide leads me to the final (and in my opinion most depressing) part of the entire film.
Margot and Richie's resolution. The two sit in Richie's tent and discuss his suicide attempt. They declare their love for each other. They kiss. They hold each other. It is beautiful and poignant because the two can never publicly act on their feelings and are instead left with a depressing ultimatum.
I think we're just gonna to have to be secretly in love with each other and leave it at that, Ritchie.
The fact that the tent is in the ballroom, which houses Richie's art collection (a continuous shrine to Margot....) makes it all the more tragic,
After that little rundown of Richie's moments, it may be hard to believe that this is a comedy. Alternatively - the trailer sells the film as a lot more outright comedic than it is (however... they always struggle at marketing this type of thing). The film is a comedy but it is subtle and it finds comedy in the recesses and ridiculousness of tragedy. It isn't the easiest film to watch but by jove it is a stunning film.
So... they are the 'youth' of the Royal Tenenbaums. Let us look at the mighty Royal Tenenbaum and the sheer bastardness he displays.
Unexplained infidelities lead to the separation of Royal and his wife (though they never legally divorced). He then finds himself kicked out of his hotel. This is a tragic affair because it is a hotel populated by Flight of the Conchords minor roles!
Firstly the hotel manager (who kicks out Royal) is none other than the long suffering Greg (aka Frank Wood)!
Secondly, Dusty the lift operator is Seymour Cassel, who - as Johnny Boy - is the oldest member of the Tough Brets.
So, with no where to live, Royal fakes cancer (with Dusty posing as a Dr) and moves into the Tenenbaum home where he tries to refriend his children and destroy the blossoming (and really quite sweet) relationship between his wife and her new fiance, Heny Sherman. Poor Henry. Not only does he get embroiled in all the kerfuffle of this family reunion but he also has to face the passive aggressive racism from Royal.
Whilst the racism bit is obviously bad. Don't forget he is pretending to have CANCER in order to get a free roof over his head and a free meal. Royal is not a nice man (despite being a fantastically jovial bad influence on his grand kids).
All this changes when he isn't allowed to see Richie at hospital. His family have finally shut him out once and for all and he sees he has to change his ways.
Royal makes an attempt to be more kind and observant. Caring for Chas and his children and finally allowing a divorce so that Henry Sherman can marry his ex.
This kindness causes Chas to have his breakdown and allow the two to finally forgive and forget.
The film begins with the family all together but falling apart. Royal being the brash and blunt catalyst in the families bitterness and deterioration. However the film ends with everyone as reconciled as possible (some things, such as Richie and Margot's relationship are never reconciled fully) brought together as a family by Royal's death.
And the final shot is of Royal's wonderful epitaph.