(2001)4Lucia BozzolaNaysayers may lament that it's too mannered for its own good, but The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) nevertheless solidifies Wes Anderson's status as an exceptionally gifted filmmaker. Shot on location in New York City, Anderson creates a finely detailed, alternative fairy tale New York that suits co-writers Anderson and Owen Wilson's uniquely gifted and tortured Tenenbaum clan. Though it touches on such dark topics as incest, drug addiction, suicide and death, Anderson and Wilson's wry sincerity turn the story of how the no longer sterling Tenenbaums make peace with the past and present into a meaningful picaresque comedy of subterfuge and resilience. Judiciously framed shots, clean editing and the inspired use of songs by Nico, Paul Simon, The Rolling Stones and The Clash mesh adroitly with the overtly literary storytelling, confirming Anderson's exuberant command of the medium. The stellar cast rises to the occasion, with Gene Hackman and Luke Wilson in particular delivering outstanding performances as the hardly majestic Royal and his Bjorn Borg-ian supernova-turned-burnout son Richie. Though they may be dysfunctional, it's easy to see why hilariously ersatz cowboy neighbor Eli Cash wants so much to be a part of The Royal Tenenbaums' world.