Review of “Come Together” by Wes Anderson

No stranger to branded content (he has made dozens of TV commercials including Burberry’s Christmas ad starring Domhnall Gleeson, as well as Prada’s “Castello Cavalcanti” featuring Jason Schwartzman and an ad for its Candy fragrance with Roman Coppola), Wes Anderson’s latest directorial effort in this particular area is a 4-min short film made for H&M, titled “Come Together”.

Doubling as an advertisement for the Swedish brand’s Holiday collection, and set on Christmas Day, this sentimental yet uplifting short follows Ralph, the conductor of the H&M Express, as he regretfully informs his passengers that, due to inclement weather conditions and mechanical difficulties on the scheduled route, the train will have a 11h30 delay. This means the passengers and himself won’t make it home for Christmas, prompting Ralph and his assistant Fritz, to replicate the Holiday in the dining car, especially for the “unaccompanied minor” on board.

With a train setting and starring Anderson regular Adrian Brody and therefore feeling much like a companion piece to “The Darjeeling Limited”, “Come Together” is a classic Wes Anderson film with an unplaceable time and location, perfect symmetry, camera pans, smooth tracking shots, immaculate costumes (uniforms), the director’s trademark acerbic and absurdist humor, meticulous production design (retro interiors), making his work instantly recognizable, no matter the format. The opening sequence establishes the short’s characters, a whimsical display of personalities, presented to us in their separate little compartments in the classic Anderson doll-house style. The character development here is simple but elegant: each passenger has a little photograph of their beloved ones. One is also reading an Agatha Christie mystery (could it be “Murder on the Orient Express”?). This shows a remarkable amount of depth for such a short piece, and makes efficient use of its runtime. And last, but not least, we can also hear a distant Christmas choir singing “The Little Drummer Boy”, later replaced by John Lennon’s Happy Xmas (War Is Over).

With many tasteful touches and beloved signature visual quirks, Anderson manages to make a delightful and heartwarming short and eschew what could have otherwise been another mundane Christmas ad. An outstanding short film indeed.

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