Moonrise Kingdom

Any Wes Anderson fan, or even casual viewer, knows that when you watch a Wes Anderson film, you’re not just watching a story, you’re experiencing a whole wealth of visual and audio eccentricities pinned to theatre style scenes with characters which somehow fill the story despite trademark deadpan delivery. Moonrise Kingdom is no different. The main story in Moonrise is one of love, between two pubescent children, separated by scout masters, attorney parents, interfering island police and bullies. Sam, a scout in the Khaki scouts and Suzy, both 12 years old, hatch a plan to run away together after a long stint as pen pals. This leads to a pseudo hairbrained style chase around the small island for the pair.

Quirky characters, settings, props, script, music - it's everything an Anderson fan could want

Quirky characters, settings, props, script, music – it’s everything an Anderson fan could want

First thing, Moonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson through and through. Not that you’d expect anything different. It’s a wonderful visual explosion of quirky fashion and odd ball sets and props. Tailored within an inch of existence, everything on-screen is put there for a reason. Wes Anderson’s total control over everything which goes into his films, it’s so effortless, it’s easy to forget that the control and specificity which goes into it all is probably the polar opposite of the aesthetic that he achieves. And I hate to be clichéd and populist with Wes Anderson, but I think his style (sometimes over substance, but rarely) is what makes his films truly enjoyable. There is an awareness of the theatrical roots of film, and his keen ear for wonderful soundtracks, he gets into the minds of everyone alive (and don’t deny it) by realising that day-dream we all have, of doing something really cool with a perfectly complimenting soundtrack which makes you, the centre of the imagination. I truly think Wes Anderson is one of the finest visionaries of modern cinema.

Some familiar faces taking a back seat to two superb child leads

Some familiar faces taking a back seat to two superb child leads

So the topic of Moonrise, is probably erring slightly on the side of controversial. It focuses on two children, borderline teenagers, who take a shine to each other in a very adult and mature way. Not sexually, but both of them are much older than their 12 years suggest, going as far to commit to one another as long as they both shall live. But they beauty of the relationship is that it just shows up the flaws of all the grown ups around them. Their hapless attempts at trying to control the wayward young romantics unravel their lives, forcing them to confront the issues they really face, albeit in a very subtle and non-conclusive way. This theme tends to occur over and over in Anderson movies, lives of children, whether it be grown ups who reflect on their childhood, or examination of children and their behaviour or the family unit as a whole, children or childlike behaviour is at the heart of Moonrise Kingdom. And the way Anderson shows childhood is almost like how we want to remember it, the weird little quirks that make us who we are, that we are all a bit weird and whimsical. which I love.

The cast of Moonrise, undoubtedly is tremendous. Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and so on. Familiar faces to Anderson fans, but to newcomers, it’s nice to see such fine actors in roles a little different from how we are used to seeing them. And the two actors who play Sam and Suzy, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, are both superb. The deadpan delivery trademark is delivered effortlessly by these two kids and actually, they rightly dominate the film. Their scenes together are charming and worrying all at the same time. Their confidence, particularly Sam’s character, is a rare gem in cinema.

Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as Sam and Suzy are perfection

Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as Sam and Suzy are perfection

The plot of Moonrise almost loses its footing in the final sequences, I have to admit. But Anderson is known for his slightly meandering plots, almost like they are written as we go along. No one knows how things will finish, and this consequently means that what we end up with is almost a film about nothing and everything. A resolution is always reached, even if isn’t the most film-friendly one, even if it isn’t particularly exciting or spectacular, but I get the feeling that as long as an ending is done, a conclusion is made then that’s all you need of the story. I always leave Anderson films feeling contented, and I always watch them more than once (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched The Darjeeling Limited).

Now I don’t doubt that Wes Anderson films might err slightly on the side of meaningless hipsterism, but it doesn’t mean that they can’t be enjoyed, in fact I think Anderson is one of the few directors who makes his films with his audience in mind, he’s not bothered about attracting new fans. If newbies happen to stumble upon his work then so be it, but I truly believe that Anderson is a true master of cinema, after all, if a film can’t look beautiful for the sake of being beautiful we’re all in the wrong business.

Relevant articles – a brilliant blog of photography inspired by the movie – a look at the music in Moonrise

There are tons more, I googled Moonrise Kingdom WordPress to get a good list of independent bloggers thoughts on this film, and there was a lot! Check them out and support your independent bloggers!

8 thoughts on “Moonrise Kingdom

  1. Wow. An amazingly in depth Review! I reviewed this a while back, but gleaned past a lot of what you mention, mostly because I didn’t notice the similarities to other Anderson fares regarding the children.

    Loved the movie myself. I was more taken with the camera work and the cinematography (obviously) as I find it truly captured the 60’s.

    • Thank you 🙂 to be honest, the stuff about the running themes of children, I only really realised it as I was writing. But I think Anderson has such a unique way of interpreting the lives of children or the impact of childhood. There is something really beautiful about the complex lives of children and hats off to the actors who played Sam and Suzy, they were fantastic! Quite possibly the best child performances I’ve seen in a long time! Given they had quite unusual roles to play too!

  2. Thanks for sharing my review. I’m about to write a similar one for ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ which was just another brilliant master-stroke that only Anderson could have made… though much darker, with death and memory playing a central role.

    • No worries! 🙂 I really want to see The Grand Budapest Hotel’. I love Anderson’s films, but I also know that so many don’t like them because they’re very similar to one another in stylistic terms, but I don’t think this should matter. Like I said, he never makes a film to win over new fans! Which for me, makes them seem so much more personal.

      • I would counter there are many differences in his films. There’s a certain tone that is certainly his own, though, and definitely not everyone “gets” him. I’ve seen every film of his in the theater when they came out, and always half the audience laughs and the rest are just quiet (some even leave early). Please watch out for my review for Grand Budapest. There’s something very distinctive about that too … oh, and I also interviewed Ralph Fiennes. I’ll have a link to that interview in the review.

        • He’s definitely very divisive for audiences. But that’s always been a good thing in my opinion! Creates variety and diversity! I definitely will keep an eye out, interview sounds interesting, I like Ralph Fiennes, good actor! 🙂

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