Here’s a phrase you almost never hear asked a director in the theater: “What’s your vision for this piece?” Here’s a phrase you always hear asked of a director in film: “What’s your vision for this piece?” Without a cogent answer, I don’t think you get the film job. Ever.
Well, for perhaps the most incisive and brilliant answer to this film-question, I submit Wes Anderson’s “vision” for “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” In my limited opportunity to see film these days, I was prompted by several really smart friends who urged me to catch a 6 p.m viewing, and the smile has yet to leave my face. Yes, it’s really good, far, far better than the average soi-disant sophisticate might imagine, but that’s not my point: Talk about a vision! The apparent tedious limitations of having to tell a visual and dramatic story frame by frame, while you move the hair of an eyebrow a fraction of a fraction of a centimeter to the left, and lift just the slight outside of an animal’s lip in the beginning of a wistful expression falls away into a dizzying rush of both confident character and endless delight, brilliantly abetted by the obvious gifts of being able to listen to George Clooney or Meryl Streep while you are doing it. There is no effort anywhere. There is no laboring, or searching for motivation, or lack of variety. And, along the way, there are often breathtaking visual touches, indicating not only vision but a sustained, joyous belief in that vision. Everything but a kind of awe and respect fails as one surrenders to this very adult, very wise fable. “Shhh! Nobody speak! Wes Anderson’s got a vision!”
The Tony-winning director of “Hairspray,” Jack O’Brien will direct the “Phantom of the Opera” sequel, “Love Never Dies,” to open in London this spring.