On Further Review...
Chris Fullerton is a Music & Film writer.
He lives in Austin, Texas.
He lives in Austin, Texas.
Let me be upfront about something, I like Wes Anderson. Okay, that’s not accurate. I love him. He is, in fact, my favorite filmmaker. To say I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Moonrise Kingdom is an understatement, so please forgive the fan adoration that weaves itself throughout this review.
It’s not often I feel I can focus much time on the writer/director of a film. There aren’t a lot of contemporary directors who have a consistent style that warrants the attention one might award an auteur, certainly not in the mainstream Hollywood arena. When I sit down for a Wes Anderson film, there are certain things I expect: a great, eclectic soundtrack, a visual tone and quirky, desperate characters.
The genesis of the story centers on Sam, (Jared Gilman), an orphan who abandons the Khaki Scout troop that’s shunned him for being odd, and Suzy, (Kara Hayward), a sensitive, yet troubled girl Sam has fallen in love with via a pen pal relationship. Over the course of a year, the two youths devise a plan to run away together, relying on Sam’s scouting expertise to survive in the “wild” of the small island which they inhabit. Once on the run, they are pursued by local law enforcement, Captain Sharp, (Bruce Willis), Scout Master Ward, (Edward Norton), Suzy’s parents, (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray), as well as Sam’s Khaki Scout Troop.
Once Sam and Suzy are found, the impending arrival of Social Services (Tilda Swinton), causes many of the former pursuers to become sympathetic to the young couple’s plight. Sam’s scout troop aids their escape to a nearby island where one boy’s cousin, Ben, (Jason Schwartzman), hatches a plan for them to start a new life on a fishing boat. All of this takes place as the “storm of the century” is about to descend on the area, causing everyone to have a gut-check moment and decide what exactly it is they want from life.
Gilman and Hayward are both newcomers, but they portray their characters with poise and charm, and develop an on-screen chemistry that makes your heart ache for them as they search for a peace that has thus far eluded them in life.
As with other Anderson works, the supporting cast is a stunning ensemble featuring familiar cohorts, such as Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, and other Hollywood heavyweights, like Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Frances McDormand. The most notable actor might be the one that’s missing, Owen Wilson, who had previously appeared in every other Anderson film going back to Bottle Rocket.
Moonrise Kingdom explores themes of depression, anxiety and longing. It makes a poignant statement about youthful angst and the need to belong and be accepted by family and peers, without being heavy-handed about it. Suffice it to say, I would recommend this film. Stylistically and thematically, Wes Anderson has created another beautiful piece of American cinema, combining sharp dialogue, multi-dimensional characters and just the right amount of whimsy.
official web (recommended)