Finally, FINALLY I got to see Moonrise Kingdom this week. Wes Anderson’s latest effort, set in 1965, follows two troubled 12-year-olds who live on an island with no roads off the coast of New England. They fall in love and make a pact to run away from their troubled lives together. The young boy Sam is a khaki scout and so his scout group, along with local authorities, search for the pair as the storm-of-the-century is brewing offshore.
Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward give two striking performances that anchor this film with a pretty fantastic mix of innocence and darkness. I couldn’t keep my eyes off Hayward – she was so striking and absolutely captivating. The characters are wonderfully vulnerable and flawed, something Anderson does impeccably well. It is almost as if the youngsters are adults in children’s bodies – suffering the afflictions of the big, bad world, while maintaining a pureness that does not exist in many 12-year-olds today. Her blue eyeshadow and his pipe-smoking definitely add to the blurring of the lines between childhood and adulthood.
The two elements I always love about a Wes Anderson film are casting and set design and Moonrise Kingdom is truly spot-on in those regards. I never thought there would be a house I coveted more than the Tenenbaums, but young Suzy’s home with parents Bill Murray and Frances McDormand (Mr and Mrs Bishop) takes the cake. These were the best pics I could find.
If Anderson’s other films were experiments in exacting his whimsical style, Moonrise Kingdom is his visual masterpiece. Each and every frame is meticulously planned out down to the finest detail, something he deserves utmost credit for. The 60s setting gives him free rein to fill the screen with kitschy nostalgia and it makes the sweet love story that unfolds all the more enticing.
Bruce Willis as the local sheriff Captain Sharp is a complete scene-stealer. He has such wonderful delivery and rhythm, I really hope he becomes an Anderson regular. I would compare his performance to that of George Clooney in Burn After Reading with his superb comedic timing. Moonrise Kingdom had quite a Coen Brothers feel to it actually.
The one thing that left me slightly disappointed was the lack of depth. Anderson is at his best when he is exploring emotional weakness (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, Tenenbaums, Darjeeling Limited) and because of the simple purity of this film, it never really went there. That’s not to say the film can’t be enjoyed for what it is – an endearing look at the warm glow of first love, but I wanted to feel the same depth of emotions I did with some of his other films and was left wanting. But overall it was a beautiful movie and I would recommend it to anyone who wants 90 minutes of aesthetically pleasing escapism. The dance scene was definitely my favourite. 4/5