But now Wes is back himself delivering a TV ad for H&M entitled Come Together. (He has in fact made a dozen or so TV ads in the past, for products including Hyundai and Ikea.) Come Together looks rather like his The Darjeeling Limited. And it sort of looks like something by one of his own army of passionate imitators.
We are on a train, the “H&M Express”. Adrien Brody is the conductor in his little office. We see him through the window disconsolately tearing a page off his calendar and bringing us up to 25 December. He makes an announcement to the passengers – a droll cross-section of personalities, shown to us in their separate little compartments, in the classic Anderson dolls-house style. Bad weather means they won’t be home for Christmas. But then, Brody and his assistant make a game attempt to replicate Christmas in the dining car, especially for the little kid on board: the “unaccompanied minor”.
There are lots of tasty touches. Each passenger has a little photo of his or her nearest and dearest, which for one is simply a dog. One is showing excellent taste by reading an Agatha Christie mystery. Murder on the Orient Express? No – it’s 4:50 from Paddington. (I myself have plaintively requested that people rediscover that novel, rather than waste time with The Girl on the Train.) Brody speaks with a sonorous voice – so sonorous and chocolatey, in fact, that I can’t be absolutely sure that Anderson isn’t being mischievous and dubbing in George Clooney.
We can hear a distant Christmassy choir singing The Little Drummer Boy, and every time anyone opens a window the music gets louder – as if the choir really is outside, somehow moving alongside the train. Later it’s replaced by John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over).
But the real showstopper of the mini-movie is something that I think no imitator could have conjured up. It’s a glorious single shot of the empty corridor which grows mysteriously dark as the train goes into a tunnel and lightens as it comes out again. That is brilliantly managed.
It’s a sweet little film, but the final sentimental note is a bit straightforward, and it is not obviously more rewarding or complex than any of the John Lewis-style Christmas ads that clog up the airwaves this time of year. Well, no one would begrudge Anderson a paycheque while he is getting his next feature off the ground. Anything he does is interesting.
It’s been a couple of years since Wes Anderson’s wonderful The Grand Budapest Hotel was released and with the IMDb listing only an as-yet untitled “project” for 2018, his devotees are eager for a taste – any taste – of the master’s unmistakable style. This fan-yearning has created an online cottage industry of mini pastiches, with a Shining mashup; an X-Men spoof; a Forrest Gump skit; a State of the Union sketch from CNN’s news team; and SNL’s glorious quasi-Wes horror film The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders.The three-minute Anderson spoof is now almost an accepted genre: maybe soon film schools will be offering an MA in it.