Moonrise Kingdom

Indie genius, Wes Anderson, often creates fascinating and funny films that are whimsical studies of kooky characters in bizarre situations. His latest feature, Moonrise Kingdom, is no exception to this; this time focusing on a tale of young love. After a chance meeting, Sam (Jared Gilman), a courageous Khaki Scout falls in love with Suzy (Kara Hayward), a girl who longs for the adventures she reads about in fantasy fiction novels. The lonely twelve-year olds become penpals and after a long correspondence, decide to run away together and live in the woods. The adults, including Suzy’s dysfunctional parents Walt (Bill Murray) and Laura (Frances McDormand), the Khaki Scout Master Randy Ward (Edward Norton) and the local sheriff Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) have other ideas though and set out a search party to find the kids and bring them back home, and ultimately, back to reality.

Moonrise Kingdom is definitely up there with Wes Anderson’s best work. If you’ve seen any of his films before you’ll know what to expect – an imaginative story that’s also a character study of some larger-than-life people. The film is full of sharp humour and wit and is expertly written by Anderson himself and Roman Coppola – the second time they’ve collaborated since writing the excellent The Darjeeling Limited.

It is also one of Wes Anderson’s most beautifully designed and sumptuously shot yet. It was filmed as symmetrically as possible using the same straight-on angle throughout. This makes it seem almost like watching a painting come to life. The film is also full of amazingly crafted long takes that have been meticulously rehearsed as characters walk in and out of scenes without the camera ever looking away, just simply following the action as it happens. It’s gorgeous to look at too, with warm, vivid colours used throughout.

The young leads give the film real charm and are both riveting to watch. Jared Gilman is funny and sweet, acting like a twenty-something man trapped in a child’s body as he desperately tries to impress his new girlfriend. And Kara Hayward is intense and mesmerising to watch as a girl desperate for more than her boring life with her parents and brothers, feeling like an outcast in her own family. The adults also add real humour to the proceedings, and sometimes seem even more ridiculous than the children. Wes Anderson newcomers Edward Norton, Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand all give memorably funny performances, especially McDormand as Suzy’s megaphone wielding mother who has something in common with her daughter of wanting more from life. And of course Bill Murray steals the whole thing as Suzy’s exasperated and stern father. Even Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman in very brief cameos leave big impressions as two more bizarre characters: Swinton as an austere women simply called ‘Social Services’ and Schwartzman as Cousin Ben – another Scout Master who tries to help the kids in his own peculiar way.

Some people may find Moonrise Kingdom too full of kook to appeal to them. But really, any person would have to have a heart of stone not to warm to another crazy bunch of Wes Anderson characters and to not laugh more than once throughout the film. Moonrise Kingdom is a brilliant indie that’s funny, beautiful and engaging. The soundtrack is also great throughout, which is another thing we’ve come to expect from Wes Anderson’s films. In my opinion, it’s one of Anderson’s best to date and nothing short of a masterpiece.


~ by square-eyed-geek on June 18, 2012.

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