Directed by: Wes Anderson
Synopsis: A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.
Moonrise Kingdom marked, in the critics eyes, Wes Anderson’s return to form. It was, despite the usual Wes style look and feel of the film, quite different from his previous few movies.
It tells the story of two pre-teens who fall in love and runaway, causing panic and a wide spread search across the fictional island they call home. Sam (Jared Gilman) runs away from the Khaki scout group led by Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) from her unhappy parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand).
The use of two young unknown lead’s recalls Jason Schwartzman’s turn in Rushmore, and the film feels fresh because of this. I can’t say it’s my personal favourite Anderson movie, but I can see why people, getting tired of his distinct style, would have liked the slight change in direction. Don’t get me wrong though, this is an Anderson movie through and through, from the set design and framing, to the droll comedy and supporting cast. It adds some new stuff to his pallet though, like scale modelling which gives the film an almost cartoon like feel in places. So too does some of the physical comedy. In Wes’ world you can get struck by lightening and only end up with frazzled hair and charred cheeks.
The two young leads do a good job of fitting into this world, and act like seasoned Anderson collaborators. The much more experienced cast are all effective, including Anderson newcomers such as Norton, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel and Tilda Swinton. The soundtrack is less sixties beat music than the likes of Rushmore and Royal Tenenbaums and is conducted by Alexandre Desplat with the music of Benjamin Britten also featuring.
One criticism you could level at the movie is, like other Anderson films, there is little emotion between characters. There is a certain sweet innocence between Sam and Suzy, most evident on the beach. In fact, if Anderson had inserted more emotion then it could have turned into a bit of a saccharine mess or bog standard coming of age story but luckily it doesn’t deviate down that path.
Personally, I think Anderson has made better films than this, but it’s still another great movie from the auteur.