Sunday, June 10

Moonrise Kingdom Review

Moonrise Kingdom
Dir: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray,
Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton,
and Tilda Swinton

Wes Anderson is simple a gifted director; his unique style offers an element of wonderment and whimsy to his heartfelt explorations of humanity that is infused into every one of his films. Anderson has this gift of crafting worlds for his blend of peculiar characters to interact within. These environments are so fascinating because it seems like they are shaped by the desires and emotions of the characters motivations; it’s like if one his characters decided to make a right turn instead of left one the world in the end would look vastly different than it otherwise would have. Moonrise Kingdom is the most influenced Wes Anderson film to date; every frame is painted with calculated strokes of Anderson-esque style. Though this doesn’t always work in the capacity of the film as a whole, it is nonetheless aspiring filmmaking.
 Moonrise Kingdom is a film about self-discovery, a common theme in Anderson films; in this case particularly the discovery found through young love. Sam (Jared Gilman) is a determined, yet unwieldy, khaki scout who breaks free from the restricting camp run by the chain-smoking Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton).  Sam is leaving to rendezvous with Suzy (Kara Hayward), a bookish, misunderstood, and troubled young girl who lives in a lighthouse with her three brothers and lawyer parents Walt (Bruce Willis) and Laura (Frances McDormand). Sam and Suzy have become alienated within their respective lives; Sam is an orphan in foster care while Suzy’s parents seem so consumed with their own wants that they often overlook Suzy.

The portrayal of young love is often clichéd, which in turn makes it seem naïve, and that happens slightly in this film but at times its suppose to. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward portray their characters with suitable emotions and idiosyncratic individualism. Their love is awkward, as most relationships typically begin, and their quirkiness keeps scenes interesting when they begin to feel trite. Anderson’s feat with these young characters concerns the use of fantasy and reality involved in the interpretation of their love. The ideas of romance aren’t always realistic and these young characters know that; Anderson does well to undercut scenes of oversaturated romance with unflinching, uncomfortable reality. Also, in a film populated with Anderson’s identifying style of fantasy, there is a nice touch during the scenes of the budding relationship where style is restrained for a more realistic feel.

In a nice transition, the film expands from the young couple and adds an appealing cast, of further unique characters, who are all searching for the evading pair. The supporting cast is good; some in particular are great, while others seem to struggle a bit along the way. Bruce Willis is suitable, still not great, as Captain Sharp, a lost character that seems to be the islands sole figure of law enforcement. Tilda Swinton, who is always brilliant, does the best she can with the truncated role only known as Social Services; I would have liked to see more of her. Bill Murray seems meant to work in the worlds that Anderson creates; he is captivating as Suzy’s father, as is Frances McDormand as Suzy’s mother. Their relationship is the best acting in the film, it’s both heartbreaking and touching to watch their marriage transform.

The story is eccentric and embodies much of the style Anderson is known for; the rich color palate, imaginative set designs, deliberate tracking shots are all here. As many of Anderson’s best films, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Rushmore being my personal favorites, demonstrate that the purposeful style is meant to highlight the art Anderson is trying to evoke. There are times where Moonrise Kingdom succeeds at this and other times where it overwhelms the sincere storytelling. This film is one of Anderson’s most heartfelt and emotional, it’s not always direct, but the subtleties that are found amongst the design are pure, for example a bedroom scene where Walt and Laura’s relationship comes to climax is especially profound.

 Moonrise Kingdom is an exceptionally written and directed film, quirky, sad, earnest, and touching. Though there are occasions when the director’s unique vision clouds and distracts from some of the real fascinating, underlying subject matter; still, it’s an ambitious film from a truly unique, and impressive auteur.

Monte’s Rating
4.00 out of 5.00

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