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Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Sexual content and smoking
Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Wyatt Ralff, Tanner Flood, Edward Norton
Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Set on an island off the coast of New England in the 1960s, Moonrise Kingdom follows a young boy and girl falling in love. When they are moved to run away together, various factions of the town mobilize to search for them and the town is turned upside down – which might not be such a bad thing. Bruce Willis plays the town sheriff; two-time Academy Award nominee Edward Norton is cast as a camp leader; Academy Award nominee Bill Murray and Academy Award winner Frances McDormand portray the young girl’s parents; the cast also includes Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman. The young boy and girl are played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012) | Review
Wes Anderson Leaps Forward Story-wise, AND Dials It Up Style-Wise
Taking my own advice into consideration, I'll review the film at first without any spoilers. But then I'll warn you and dive into spoiler territory for those who have already seen the film!
There have been singular moments in previous Wes Anderson films which have possibly evoked more emotion in me, but overall Moonrise Kingdom is the most emotionally satisfying among his works to date. Coming of age has never been quite this achingly sweet, quirky, and filled with fantasy.
If you have strong opinions about Wes Anderson's voice as a filmmaker, Moonrise Kingdom will do nothing to change them. Therefore, if you already love him: See Moonrise Kingdom at your first convenience. If you can't stand his aesthetic, avoid it at all costs.
Where I do feel that Anderson's storytelling has improved with this adventuresome script, his production design and precise camera work are turned up to 11 in Moonrise Kingdom. In the first act of the film, I will admit that his precise camera movements and elaborately whimsical set design had me worried that Moonrise would be an exercise in style over substance. But by act two I had forgotten those concerns and was fully invested (nay, in love) with the characters filling up this wonderful world. And that isn't to say that his distinct style is a bad thing. I love it, but it really only works when the camera and sets draw you into the story, and this time out it took me a little while to wish I lived in this world instead of the real one.
12 year old Sam (Jared Gilman) escapes from Khaki Scout camp and kicks off a massive manhunt on an isolated island off the coast of New England in a 1960s era Summer. We soon come to discover many other surprising details. For one thing, Sam is an orphan, and his foster parents have declined to take him back home after this latest mishap. We also learn that Sam's escape from camp is part of an orchestrated plan to unite with his pen pal and the love of his life, Suzy (Kara Hayward.) As the film progresses, we will follow the action from two worlds. First we have the adult world, with Suzy's parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), Sam's scout master (Edward Norton), and the island police chief (Bruce Willis), bumbling and generally exhibiting the broken, childlike adulthood that most Wes Anderson adults display. We also dwell in the kids' world. Kids in an Anderson film still represent the hope and blank slates that we all seem to have lost by the time we grow up. Yes, there are bullies and real hurt in the world of these kids. But there are also profound moments of grace, forgiveness, and sincerity.
Moonrise Kingdom offers an enormous amount of spiritual food for thought amidst all the quirkiness.
First of all, the relationship between Sam and Suzy is a more mature and communicative love experience than many adults have ever had. While it is likely that Sam and Suzy's inability to communicate with the adult world results from a mixture of mild autism and the aforementioned broken and bumbling adults, the connection they find in each other is beautiful. My own childhood was never this achingly whimsical, but I certainly felt the angst and drama that these two are experiencing. And Wes Anderson captures that feeling and brings me back to my own adolescence, as mundane as that truly was.
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