Moonrise Kingdom

June 17, 2012 No Comments

Moonrise Kingdom is director Wes Anderson’s latest creation of a fantastical world in which his  wistful  story unfolds before our marveling eyes.  Those familiar with his previous films (Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic and the Fantastic Mr. Fox) have been waiting for this one with excitedly high expectations.  Anderson’s meticulous use of mise en scene–no detail is spared–is his trademark.  His stories are wistful, filled with loss and disappointment, but maintain a delicate sense of hope, aided always with spot on performances by his favorite actors (Bill Murray has been in 5 of the last 6 films) who embrace the Anderson world with unapologetic sincerity.  Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel and Bill Murray are wonderfully cast in Kingdom as the supporting “adult” cast.   Anderson’s musical feel once again adds depth and emotion to the film. In Moonrise, he artfully uses Benjamin Britton’s wonderful scores (Noye’s Flood and the Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra) to depict childhood and Hank Williams to capture the grownup flavor.   His remarkable sense of his camera, which flows around the characters when such movement is necessary and quietly sits still with equal comfort and patience creates an ebb and flow of plot and feeling which is pure film pleasure.  As always, Anderson trusts his  complex story, unfolds it creatively (he uses an onscreen narrator here to help us follow) and carefully “bookends” the  themes presented at the beginning, so that we leave nodding with approval.

Oh, and what is the movie about?  Think 1965, the end of innocence or as Moonrise hints repeatedly “the end of summer”….two twelve year olds (one an orphan, one a “difficult” child), meet, fall in love and decide to run away together…on an island….with a major storm (adolescence?) brewing….Suzy and Sam…..in hot pursuit, are the adults–parents, police, scoutmaster and “social services” and scout troop bent on ‘rescuing” the young lovers…..NO SPOILER HERE because I am going to avoid revealing anything else about this magical movie…..I feel this film is best experienced without “scoop” about the plot and/or outcome, although I must add that I fully intend to see the film again….soon…..

We might debate whether this film is up to the standards of  The Royal Tenenbaums or Rushmore  or whether Anderson’s view of preadolescence is too “precious” (a word often slung his way)…is he toooo meticulous about his detail?  Are his actors tooooo deadpan in their delivery?  Is his  repeated focus on loss in childhood a wakeup call that it’s perhaps time for him to grow up?  These are all fine questions to ponder, and I feel they are most fairly answered AFTER  an immersion in an Anderson film……Anderson’s portrayal of young love as shared by Sam and Suzy does seem ‘precious,” but, in my opinion, that is precisely because Anderson somehow still feels it as twelve year olds do, minus the more typical film version of such experiences in which young people provide mouthpieces for the musings of thirty year old writers…too droll, too ironic, too adult….Anderson knows and is not embarrassed to remind us of how precious those early experiences actually are…..and in the key words of  Captain Sharp (our adult hero Bruce Willis who adds a bit of his Die Hard personna, Anderson style) at the end of the film entreats  us “Don’t let go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”……… Hold on tight and make this your must see movie!   Jolyn Wagner

Must See Movie of the Week

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