Quick Hit: A tale of young love and the losses of adulthood.
Wes Anderson is cool. That’s not exactly an extremely literate way to come out and say it, but the guy is one of my favorite directors. His films are beautiful and also deal with that most wonderful of topics: the translation of a child to an adult. Moonrise Kingdom is no different, and still features his normal terrific cast, as well as his excellent grasp of colors and music.
The film follows Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), two young children on the Isle of New Penzance. The island is essentially cut off from the world, and the year is 1965. Sam is a Khaki Scout, an orphan, and a loner. Suzy is a science fiction/fantasy lover who just wants her family to leave her along. After a tremendous meet-cute, the two begin a pen pal relationship that culminates in them running away together. Without going further, there’s the plot in a nutshell, without a lot of Anderson’s surrounding madness.
There are few films these days that seem to use camera movement and color as well as a Wes Anderson film. The camera really only stops moving when it’s to focus on our assortment of couples, but even then, the angles seem oddly placed, until you realize exactly what Anderson is shooting for – it’s the emotional impact of the different scenes, rather than the emotions themselves that make the shots work. Along with that, his contrast of the khaki brown of the different scout troops with the green surroundings of New Penzance allow it to be rather alarming when you see a character from the outside like Tilda Swinton’s Social Services brashly appear on screen wearing electric blue. It immediately screams “Outsider!” and you hate her for ruining the world Anderson has created.
This is also a testament to the set surroundings that have been created – all period specific. The use of the different radio and book props, particularly the ones that Suzy has brought to Moonrise Kingdom, are pure nostalgic love.
The acting performances are wonderful, with a special attention to be paid to our young stars. Gilman plays Sam as socially awkward, but well-intentioned; Hayward’s raw power and energy comes out more than once in her stare (which kind of reminds me of that famous National Geographic photograph). It’s their performance that really lends to the believability in the young love, and the realization that they are on the cuff between childhood and adulthood; this may be the only time they can run away and truly be able to get away. The wonderfully rendered montage of the two writing to each other is pure Andersonian porn – all hustle and bustle surrounding our stoic characters.
But there are more characters that all give their all here, most of them Anderson veterans. Edward Norton gives one of the most heartfelt performances as a Scout Master who lives for the job – high socks and all. He hides behind the position, and behind his nightly Scout Master report, because there really isn’t anything else to his life. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand play Suzy’s parents, and the disappointment is tangible throughout their scenes – how did they quite get to this point?
It’s amazing that you can watch a masterpiece like Moonrise Kingdom on Netflix. It may not be the same caliber as some of Anderson’s other films, but it’s still an amazing movie. I’m giving it an “A”.
For more on this movie check out IMDB.
"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy"