Moonrise Kingdom – Review


Wes Anderson spins a wonderful tale of young love.

Wes Anderson broke his R rated streak with Fantastic Mr. Fox but he didn’t break from his memorable stories about quirky yet troubled characters. With his latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, he continues with kid focused stories while maintaining all the classic elements of his films that fans have come to love.

On a tiny New England island Sam and Suzy (first timers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) meet at a play and have an instant connection. Suzy lives at home with her parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) and her siblings where no one in the family seems to connect in any kind of emotional way. Sam is the outsider at a nearby Khaki Scouts summer camp. The two begin to write letter to one another where their passion (if you can call it that for such young kids) grows and they decide to run away together.

Soon the local sheriff, Captain Sharp, (Bruce Willis), the Khaki Scout leader, Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) and Suzy’s parents are trekking all over the island looking for them. To tell too much more about the film is to ruin it. Not that the film is filled with shocks and twists, but it’s a fantastic emotional journey that deserves to be experienced.

Those who’ve seen Wes Anderson films will feel right at home with his unique cinematic style. He opens the film Suzy’s home as a huge set piece (think the submarine in Life Aquatic) where he shows how distant all of her family is. He also fills the film with distinct symmetrical cinematography. While this has certainly become a staple of Wes Anderson it was impressive to see him compose these photo worthy shots in the wilderness where he doesn’t have the same control that he does on a set.

However all the cinematic skill aside, this film wouldn’t work without the well written and extremely well acted characters. The stars are all at the top of their game here. Bruce Willis probably more noticeably so as he is somewhat steps out of his comfort zone for this role. It’s rare to see Willis play such a quirky role, moments of it harked back to me Hudson Hawk (which I realize some people would count as a negative, but I love that flick.)

That aside, the shining stars of the film are Gilman and Hayward. Being that it is a film about two young kids falling in love, if the actors couldn’t sell that then nothing in the film would work, and boy to they sell it! There was something about their chemistry that reminded me of Harold and Maude in that it was very awkward and very, very sincere.

Wes Anderson is a filmmaker who is known for his unique cinematic style and his quirky troubled characters. His films often divide people, they either love his films or hate them. Moonrise Kingdom isn’t one of his best film, but it’s still the best film I’ve seen this year and I highly recommend it. Even if you’ve been annoyed by his films in the past, you should still give this one a shot.

Director: Wes Anderson
Notable Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton and Bruce Willis
Writer(s): Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

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