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Wes Anderson’s most inspiring women

Hotel Chevalier, starring Natalie Portman, was filmed on location at the Hôtel Raphael in Paris

Multi-award-winning writer and director Wes Anderson has created some of cinema’s most unforgettable worlds and extraordinary female characters. Here are five fantastical women to learn great things from.

Lifestyle

Natalie Portman as Jack’s girlfriend in Hotel Chevalier, 2007

Running away to a fancy Parisian Hotel after a bad breakup is something everyone should try once. At least, Anderson’s short prequel to The Darjeeling Limited will convince you it is. In a subversion of gender stereotypes, it’s a man indulging in some me-time at an idyllic hotel when his ex-girlfriend – the toothpick chewing, pixie-cropped Natalie Portman – arrives at the door with flowers, makes a barbed comment about his music choice (Peter Starstedt’s Where Do You Go To My Lovely) and promptly uses his toothbrush without asking. Thirteen minutes of intimacy and power play, with Portman stealing the show.

Natalie Portman and Jason Schwartzman star as former lovers who reunite in a Paris hotel room

Greta Gerwig as Tracy Walker in Isle of Dogs, 2018

Anderson’s second foray into stop-motion animation focuses on the plight of a colony of politically out-of-favor canines who find themselves exiled to ‘Trash Island’ by Mayor Kobayashi. While the female pooch protagonist among them is former prize-winning show dog Nutmeg (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), back on the mainland, Anderson’s heroic underdog comes in the form of frizzy-haired, freckle-faced American exchange student Tracy Walker (voiced by Greta Gerwig), who galvanizes her pro-dog student group into action with the help of research scientist Yoko Ono, voiced by the woman herself.

Isle of Dogs is out March 23rd in the US, and March 30th in the UK.

Oscar-nominated Greta Gerwig voices teenage activist Tracy Walker in Isle of Dogs
Gwyneth Paltrow’s distinctive look as Margot Tenenbaum has been referenced by many designers over the years, namely Alessandro Michele for his debut Gucci FW15 collection

Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001

Everything about Gwyneth Paltrow as the unknowable, beautiful, depressed genius Margot Tenenbaum is a triumph. She’s an unsmiling woman who likes hanging out in the bath, is unwilling to discuss her emotions and maintains extreme secrecy in many other ways (covert phone calls, hidden affairs and a hush-hush smoking habit). Plus, Margot has become the fashion world’s poster girl for granny-chic. Her signature look – striped polo dress, caramel-colored Fendi coat, blunt blond bob, kohl-rimmed eyes, Hermès bag and serious loafers – is majestic.

Meryl Streep as Mrs. Fox in Fantastic Mr Fox, 2009

Felicity Fox, landed with the task of keeping her scheming and mischievous husband on the straight and narrow, is voiced with guts and gusto by Meryl Streep. Mrs. Fox is exactly the sort of person you’d want on your side in a crisis, overcoming lies, false promises, turbulent living situations and near-death encounters with a level head and voice-of-reason witticisms. What’s more, she’s proof that it’s entirely possible to covet the wardrobe of an animated animal – there’s something very Miu Miu about her high-necked bright yellow apple-print dress.

Ever the method director, Anderson had Streep and the rest of the cast record their dialogue on farms, in fields, and even underground, to enhance their performances

Anjelica Huston as Patricia in The Darjeeling Limited, 2007

The challenge in casting Wes Anderson’s sixth feature movie, which follows three brothers on a pilgrimage through northern India to track down their mother, is, who could possibly play the mother of Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody and Jason Schwartzman – the most temperamentally erratic gene pool ever committed to film? Anderson solved it by casting the impossibly brilliant and ballsy actress Anjelica Huston (well, it worked on The Royal Tenenbaums). In a typically Andersonian quirk of plotting, she plays a nun living at an order in the Himalayas, which presumably the actress knew something about, having spent her early years being schooled at the Sisters of Mercy Convent for Girls in Ireland.

Anjelica Huston (here as Patricia Whitman in The Darjeeling Limited) has played inspirational and idiosyncratic women in three of Anderson's features

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