Is it possible to review a Wes Anderson film without using the words “quirky” or “eccentric”? It might be, if only he stopped making movies that fit such a description. Moonrise Kingdom is no exception, but all the better for it.
Situated on an island off the New England coast in a nostalgia laden view of 1965, it tells the story of two runaway children and the attempts of parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray), a police officer (Bruce Willis), a Scout troop (led endearingly by Edward Norton) and a Social Worker (Tilda Swinton) to find them.
Many Anderson hallmarks are present. There is a striking colour scheme of burnt orange, browns and sea blue, there are the returning cast members and collaborators (Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Roman Coppola), inventive use of the soundtrack, in this case Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and a lot of Hank Williams, and the detailed props, including a set of fictitious children’s books complete with cover illustrations. His aesthetic runs consistently from opening to closing credits, which are beautiful in themselves.
There has been some criticism of the lead child actors Jared Gilman (Sam) and Kara Hayward (Suzy) but this is unfair. They are charming and believable as they win over our sympathy in their dogged pursuit of freedom. Of course a pair of twelve year-olds can’t run off, get married and get away with it, but we’re on their side.
In anticipating this release in an earlier post, I was fearful of a film which would be content with a strong visual sense but little else. I’m happy to report that there is humour and, most importantly, real “heart” to Moonrise Kingdom, which side of it could perhaps could have been developed a little more, but nonetheless represents a return to form for a unique voice in contemporary cinema.
If I gave stars, it would be a 4.