We’ve all had one of those moments. Mine happens when I’m wearing a vintage mu-mu dress and expressionlessly spraying plants with an olde-tyme plant mister; I lean woodenly forward, my body moving at inorganic right angles, I turn my head with unusual precision to look at a ceramic dog statue, which looks back at me with an equally fixed gaze, some whimsical music begins playing in my head, and I suddenly know I am in a Wes Anderson movie. It is a lived reality just dying for its own meme, and photographer Ava Williams made it happen.
“You better not be acting like you’re in a Wes Anderson film when I get there,” is the admonition that floats over a TikTok posted by Williams on April 8, which has since received 2.2 million views. What follows is a charming 24-second sequence of Williams goofing around on an empty commuter train in high Anderson style, both in character personification and aesthetics — symmetrically framed entranceways, Futura Bold title cards, and a perfectly positioned train ticket — all set to a snippet of “Obituary” by Alexandre Desplat (part of the soundtrack for The French Dispatch, a 2021 Anderson film).
It’s an idea too good not to emulate, and the internet wasted no time at all. Despite warnings that they “better not,” people are now pretending they are in a Wes Anderson film when they travel, go to lunch, and even when they return to Ukrainian cities devastated by Russian occupation.
“The whole thing has been very crazy for me, especially considering I am a huge Wes Anderson fan,” Williams told Hyperallergic in an interview. “I created the video in hopes of cheering myself up after having a pretty terrible week. I had watched The French Dispatch with my parents the night before and was inspired by the whole thing. I wanted to acknowledge the moment I was having, even if it was unpleasant, and make the most of it.”
Williams’s inspiration has seeded a groundswell of responses, from people at work in woodshops, museums, and warehouses to filmmakers doing direct send-ups. Actor Michael Barrymore seems to have made it his new hobby.
“The idea that so many other people also want to capture these small things they do each day is such a gift to see and I’ve been in love with every single one,” said Williams. “I am grateful for the response it’s very heartwarming and certainly made for better weeks.”
“But particularly I’m very grateful for Wes Anderson who made the whole thing what it is,” Williams added. “For having a style so many people hope to be part of, and letting me even if only in my imagination, be a part of it.”