Moonrise Kingdom * * * *
Director: Wes Anderson.
Screenplay: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola.
Starring: Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bob Balaban, Larry Pine, Eric Chase Anderson.
When viewing Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, the usual adjectives spring to mind; Quirky, off-beat, idiosyncratic, original. It’s all of these things and further confirmation that this man has a unique style all his own and (thankfully for his fans) he doesn’t seem in the mood for changing that anytime soon.
In a small New England town in the 1960’s, young boy scout Sam (Jared Gilman) decides to run away with local girl Suzy (Kara Hayward). As a result, his Scout Master (Edward Norton) organises a search party and teams up with the Sheriff (Bruce Willis) and the young girls parents (Bill Murray, Frances McDormand) to track them down.
This is a very strange little film indeed and possibly one of Anderson’s strangest which is saying something. However, it’s also proof that the king of quirk hasn’t lost his touch. His pallet is once again sumptuous and his attention to detail meticulous – to say the least. The whole film is painted in vibrant pastel and autumnal colours and there’s a sharpness and texture to his images. Quite simply, the film is gorgeous to look at and special credit must go to Anderson’s regular cinematographer Robert Yeoman in his ability to capture such a magical land. Ensemble casts are also becoming a regular feature of Anderson’s works and this is no different. He’s amassed a very impressive collection of top-quality performers here and every one of them are excellent. A number of them play against type with the most memorable being a melancholic Willis and an ingenuous Norton; Murray and McDormand are no slouches either and deliver their usual reliability – as does Swinton – but the likes of Schwarztman and especially Keitel are given very little to do. Ultimately though it doesn’t really matter about the familiar faces onscreen as it the young actors that impress the most. The two young leads in Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are superb and fine support is given by the young boy scout crowd. Much like Alan Parker’s “Bugsy Malone“, it’s entertaining to see youngsters behave with grown up mannerisms yet despite it’s nature it’s never played for laughs. Most of the actors play it straight which adds a deeper sadness to this, deceivingly, lighthearted tale. Beneath it all though, it’s essentially a right-of-passage story as it focuses on the progression from childhood to adolescence while on the periphery delivers an effective contrast in the disillusionment of adulthood. Despite it’s air of sadness though, it’s the charming innocence and wonderment that shines through. It’s yet another thoroughly enjoyable Anderson adventure but somehow it didn’t resonate as well as his previous films. Maybe I was expecting too much or maybe it will grow on me like “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou” did after a couple of viewings. As much as I had fun with this, I think I will have even more second time round.
As a self confessed Anderson fan, even I wasn’t fully prepared for his overstated quirkiness here but that aside, this is still an accomplished piece of work.