The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)… exploring joy


The Royal Tenenbaums

My rating: 10

IMDB rating: 7.6

IMDB link:

Dearest reader,

The brilliance of Wes Anderson will always astonish me. His ability to incorporate the most important issues into a seemingly ‘plain’ storyline, is something that I have never seen done as successfully as he does it.

These important issues that he incorporates are never concentrated on one age-group or generation, but there is something relevant for literally everyone, especially in this film.

From the harsh realities of growing older, death and grief, to the responsibility of raising children, love and marriage, everything is explored in this film. Each character is used very specifically to either highlight a certain comment, or to create a ‘relevance-point’ for the viewer.

To me, the exploration of joy in this film is the most important. Because of Anderson’s dry and ironic humoristic style it is often difficult to isolate specific instances of joy. It is also always interesting to see how people that grew up in the same house can differ drastically…

Chas finds joy in order, numerals and ambition, Margot finds joy in other people (as she hops from one relationship to the next) because she is unable to discover the joy within herself. Richie is a bit more complicated, he finds joy in the one he loves, self-discovery and his father’s love.

Although all three these children were raised as prodigies, they reached their peak too early and experience not only disappointment by society, but also by themselves. Being raised as prodigies created children that are driven by achievement. When there is an absence of achievement for a prolonged period they become anxious and eventually just give up like is the case with Margot and Richie.

Margot, who is unable to find the joy within herself, cannot find the joy in her relationship with Richie and therefore still keeps him at a distance. Chas, on the other hand, who is unable to forgive his father and work through the death of his wife, absorbs himself in the joy that he thinks his job provide as a means of avoiding reality. Ritchie hunts his joy no matter how inappropriate it may be and that leads to an idealisation of Margot that leads to his attempted suicide when that illusion is shattered.

There are, of course, several points of view that one can take when approaching this movie, but the way in which joy was explored really captured me. Anderson truly is a genius and I cannot wait to see what he does next!

Want to read more on The Royal Tenenbaums? Try these…

All Good Frames: The Royal Tenenbaums.

Roger Ebert: Royal Tenenbaums  

Rolling Stone: Royal Tenenbaums

Cinemablend: Royal Tenenbaums


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