Runtime: 1 Hour
and 32 Minutes
Everyone has a dream. Dignan's is to be a criminal. A robber. His
mind dances with visions of himself pulling off elaborate heists and
getting rich. In his boundless enthusiasm, he reminds one of a child.
He is excited, doing something he longs and yearns to do. He is never
happier than when he is orchestrating a robbery. It makes him giddy,
makes him happy.
His friend, Anthony, doesn't really want to be a criminal. You can
tell it in his eyes. But he can't bear to break his friend's heart.
He can't bear to disappoint him. So he gets himself involved in Dignan's
hair-brained schemes. He smiles and plays along and assists in the
robberies, even though he wants no part of it and even though he knows
that his friend lacks the necessary tools to be a good criminal.
The relationship between Anthony and Dignan, well, it just feels right.
It gets all the little details right. It knows how such a relationship
works. It knows that sometimes you do things you really don't want
to because you love someone, because you like them enough that you
don't want to hurt them, even if you realize deep down that you probably
should hurt them before they have a chance to hurt themselves. But
you can't, because you can't bear to see that crestfallen look cross
their face. There is a beautiful moment in "Bottle Rocket"
where Anthony is out. He is no longer a part of Dignan's schemes and
he is doing well for himself. But Dignan shows up and asks him if
he wants to rob a place. Anthony refuses. Then some guys show up and
make fun of Dignan's jumpsuit. They break Dignan's heart. Not that
he's that fragile but just the state that he is in. And you can see
Anthony wanting to help him, wanting to put things right for his friend,
and so he gets into it all over again. It's a true moment, a moment
that any one of us with a heart and a good friend could see ourselves
conceivably getting into, and the whole movie is full of moments like
And it's funny too, in its own, wonderfully-understated way. A lot
of people mistake "low-key" for boring, but there is no
reason that the two have to go together. This movie is light and subtle
and it has a deft touch. Upon first viewing, I didn't think a great
deal of it myself. I liked it, but I didn't get that thrilled by it.
However, the movies of Wes Anderson (he also did "Rushmore")
are strange in that way. At first, you like them and that's about
it. But then you find yourself drawn into them again and again and
again. And every time you watch them, you find fresh layers to them.
Both this movie and "Rushmore"
have more going on in them than you might think at first, more than
meets the eye. The fight between Dignan and a large, black man at
a pool hall, for example. It's in the background of another scene,
almost a throwaway, but for those who pay close attention it is hilarious.
Much of the movie is that way. It invests us in the characters and
it does so deeply enough that we grow to love them and we laugh at
the same time that we empathize with them and understand them. These
characters are wonderful creations and it is a joy to spend time with
Do yourself a favor, get to know Dignan and Anthony. And acquaint
yourself with Bob Maplethorpe and his brother "Futureman".
If they don't move you at first, well, just give them time. Trust