Moonrise Kingdom Directed by: Wes Anderson Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman Running Time: 1 hr 34 mins Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 16, 2012
PLOT: A pair of kids (Gilman, Hayward) run away on a New England island, which causes parents, troop leaders and the police to go searching.
WHO'S IT FOR? Me. It was my first film at the 65th Cannes Film Festival. If you like Anderson, this will absolutely do the job.
Are you allowed to refer to a film as having a "Wes Anderson vibe" if you're actually watching a film by Anderson? I say yes. He's capable of making you immediately know you're sitting down for one of his movies and I'm not referring to his name flashing up on the big screen. I'm talking about everything else he does. Might I add, he does it extremely well.
Moonrise Kingdom plays with children stuck in an adult world, wanting to be adults, and in many situations they are quite capable. Sometimes, even more so than the adults who attempts to protect them. It's a story of Sam and Suzy, two children who don't fit in, yet find each other. Anderson allows these adolescents to carry themselves with an immature maturity. It's that sprinkling that Anderson does so well with kids. See Rushmore for his best example of this.
Set in 1965, the island town comes to life with a wonderful cast of characters. To save us all some time, here's the list:
Edward Norton as Scout Master Ward Bruce Willis as Captain Sharp Bill Murray as Walt Bishop Frances McDormand as Laura Bishop Tilda Swinton as Social Services Jason Schwartzman as Cousin Ben Harvey Keitel as Commander Pierce
Now, I must warn you. All of these actors are window dressing for the kids' story. Scout Master Ward runs Troop 55. Sam leaves, Ward attempts to find him. Suzy escapes to be with Sam. Her parents (Walt and Laura) attempt to find her. Captain Sharp is in charge of the search. He goes from empowering boy scouts to take Sam down, to developing parental feelings for the boy.
It's not the story that is so impressive, it's the control and care Anderson wields over it. The music and set design are incredible. The amount of care that Anderson puts into staging a panning shot is unparallelled. We don't even see some of the excitement on the screen and Moonrise is good enough that I didn't care. One example of this is Troop 55 fighting with Sam, and Anderson only shows the aftermath of the bloody battle. Another example is Walt, a bottle of wine, and an axe going to chop down a tree, and Anderson only shows the aftermath.
Anderson is wonderful at telling children's stories for adults. When Sam and Suzy trade letters back and forth, Anderson actually cuts them off to get to the telling of the next story. That's exactly how children would talk. When things get intimate between Suzy and Sam on a beach, I was actually reminded of my childhood instead of feeling uncomfortable with the situation. My favorite moment is when Schwartzman finally shows up and takes complete control over the film. Again, it's a focus on kids, being kids, but also adults.
With all of the techniques and beauty Moonrise offers, it still has an emotional connection. There is death and danger. Even though Swinton has a limited screen presence, her costume and attitude are reminiscent to Cuckoo Nest's Nurse Ratched. There's even more danger as an island storm approaches.
Moonrise Kingdom is a film that fits perfectly next to Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaums. Just like those movies, I'll be watching this one multiple times. There is something so playful about Anderson, it's the perfect way to kick of my Cannes.
This is Anderson being Anderson. I'm quite happy with that. It's realistic imagination overload.
FINAL SCORE: 9/10