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Moonrise Kingdom

1 Nov


Director: Wes Anderson

Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

Stars: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward and Bruce Willis

Motion Picture Rating: 12A

Runtime: 94 minutes



I always look forward to seeing the new Wes Anderson film, but I don’t come away completely satisfied every time. Rushmore was stunning, but I struggled with The Royal Tenebaums. I enjoyed The Life Aquatic a lot and The Darjeeling Limited was a pleasant distraction. Here on Moonrise Kingdom, however, I think that Anderson has surpassed those and delivered his best (live action) film to date. The expected Anderson whimsical themes and quirky production design are all present and I smiled widely from start to finish. It is a 90 minute delight.

The imaginary setting is the Island of New Penzance and the year is 1965. Bob Balaban, as the narrator, tells us that a big storm is approaching. Whilst the weather worsens we follow the exploits of two 12 year olds, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward). They run away from the khaki scout troop (Sam) and from a big eccentric family (Suzy) to meet up and to have an adventure. Sam and Suzy are in love. They are also misunderstood by their friends and family. Sam is described as being “emotionally disturbed” whilst Suzy is tagged with having “so many problems”. As such they get each other and are content to leave adults and other meddlers far behind.

Like all of Anderson’s films this one is meticulously styled and shot. It is beautiful to look at and each scene opens with some artfully clever framing. The opening credits alone are genius. Colours are vibrant throughout and the imaginary island, that in the real world would be somewhere like Martha’s Vineyard, provides great backdrops to the search for the runaways. Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman return and are both typically excellent. In addition Edward Norton is great as the zealous scout leader, Bruce Willis convinces as the tired police chief and both Tilda Swinton and Frances McDormand impress. It is a great cast.

There are few laugh-out-loud moments in Moonrise Kingdom however it is sweet and funny throughout. A lot of that comes from Sam and Suzy as the runaway couple – he with the Davy Crocket hat and her with the binoculars. Sure their romance is over-blown and open for cynicism, but you would have to be stone hearted not to root for them.

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