The wonderfully written site at theflimculb, which looks at both the big and small screen offerings has only gone and reviewed a Wes Anderson beauty for my blog. It can also be found on my guest review page and please discover more great stylings of her writing at theflimculb
So here it is, their thoughts on ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ –
Wes Anderson is one of those directors whose films are ripe for the age-old, and over-used, adage, ‘you either love it or you hate it’. Personally, when it comes to Wes and his cinematic offerings, I’m a lover not a hater. But if you’re not a fan of quirk and whimsy then I suggest you look away now.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012) is set on the fictional island of New Penzance, off the coast of New England. And let’s just say, if it weren’t fictional I’d have already packed my boxes and secured the services of removal firm. The central characters of the film are youngsters Sam (Jared Gilman), a wise-beyond-his-years, pipe toting, orphaned boy scout, and Suzy (Kara Hayward), an aloof but observant, possibly depressive pre-teen with a penchant for the music of Francoise Hardy. After becoming acquainted at the local am-dram production of Noah’s Ark, the two begin a pen-pal correspondence in which they secretly plot their escape from their respective lonerdoms. When the day of the great runaway arrives, Sam comes prepared with maps, whistles and camping supplies. Suzy bring sci-fi novels, a record player, assorted records and a kitten, because, seriously, what more does a person need? At the discovery of the two missing youths, Suzy’s parents (played expertly by Bill Murray and Francis McDormand), Sam’s scout group led by Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), and local policeman and boat-dwelling bachelor, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), all burst into chaotic action and the hit the trail of the love-struck runaways.
The film, as is the style of Anderson, is punctuated by the appearance of screen-filling placards of the written word, this time it’s the childlike and charming letters between Sam and Suzy that litter the narrative. And, also the norm for Anderson, he creates not just a story, but a whole world; a fully functioning microcosm, so real that it can be watched with an odd sense of nostalgia even in those of us who grew up in ‘90s United Kingdom. Moonrise Kingdom is set in 1965, it is a time when children played outside and adventures were not confined to the virtual reality of whatever console is currently in gaming vogue. But it’s not a perfect world. Suzy’s parents reside in a deadpan marriage and converse only by shouting from room to room. Her mother frequently mounts her bicycle and disappears to share a cigarette and more with Captain Sharp. And Sam is not only on the run from the boy scouts, but also from Social Services. Why are those words capitalised? Because Social Services is the name of the character played by Tilda Swinton. She plays Social Services. No joke.
Moonrise Kingdom is at once detached and touching. As an audience, it feels as though we are viewing the events from a distance, perhaps through Suzy’s cherished binoculars with which she observes, and silently judges, the actions of those around her. The film is hare-brained and hilarious, eccentric and innocent, simple and yet excruciatingly detailed. It features the kind of cast that can only be boasted by an Anderson creation and the genuine and solid performances that go along with it. There is no mistaking Moonrise Kingdom for the work of anyone else, and it shares themes with other Anderson classics. With The Darjeeling Limited (2007) and The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), its common denominator is a dysfunctional family. With Life Aquatic (2004), the similarity lies in the essence of an outlandish mission. And with Rushmore (1998), a theme of childhood schemes is shared. So why, if this film has so many links with its predecessors, is Moonrise Kingdom still enjoyable? Have we not seen it all before by now? Well, the saying goes, ‘if it aint broke, don’t fix it’, and Anderson’s unique style and strong sense of storytelling is still very much functional.
The film is clearly a member of the Anderson family, but it’s as fresh-faced as its young actors. It is a summer getaway on a never-dull island, a trip back to childhood and the study of a lovable and undeniably ridiculous community. It’s Wes at his best. And I give Moonrise Kingdom a nine out of ten. “Only nine?” I hear nobody asking. Well yes, it loses one point for some slightly uncomfortable pre-teen underwear dancing.