Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis
Directed by Wes Anderson
Rating: PG 13
Quirky, whimsical and visually stunning, Wes Anderson’s new film Moonrise Kingdom ticks all the boxes.
The film is set in the 1960s on the fictitious island of New Penzance, where 12-year-old orphan Sam runs away from his khaki scout camp with his pen pal Suzy. Sam and Suzy met the previous summer and fell in love, and since then they have been sending letters to each other and planning to run away.
Suzy meets Sam in a meadow near her house, bringing nothing but a suitcase full of books, a pair of binoculars and her cat. From then on everyone sets out to find the pair, including the boys from the scout camp, Suzy’s family, Social Services and the island’s sheriff.
The cast is filled with big-name actors including Edward Norton as Scout Master Ward, Bill Murray and Frances McDormand as Suzy’s parents, and a wonderfully subdued Bruce Willis as Sherrif Captain Sharp, the sheriff. It’s the young actors who play Suzy (Hayward) and Sam (Gilman), though, who deliver incredible performances, giving their characters a sense of innocence and heart.
Moonrise Kingdom is not just a story. It shows how film can be an artform. It is beautifully shot. The experience of watching it makes you feel like you have stepped inside a French painting or a fairy tale.
The film is saturated in warm, sun-bleached tones and a nostalgic '60s filter through which we see the world of Sam and Suzy. The shots are creative and there is a great deal of attention to detail, from the intricacies of the island to the artwork on the covers of Suzy’s fictional books.
Anderson manages to capture the innocence and confusion of first love and adolescence. The interactions between Sam and Suzy are sweet and heartwarming. The film also has some very funny understated moments, especially the awkward dancing Sam and Suzy do when they reach the other side of the island, and the actions of the other scout boys, including one with a lazy eye.
The narrator, played by Bob Balaban, was also a great addition to the story as he talks directly to the audience.
The costumes are brilliant, the dialogue is sharp and the haunting soundtrack beautifully complements what is on the screen. The storyline is simple, but it works in the film’s favour by leaving the emphasis on the characters and the spectacular visuals.
This film is a bit odd and different, but that’s its appeal. It’s warm and enchanting, and has a lightness that sweeps you up into the world of New Penzance from the very first shot.
You will love this film if you are a fan of Wes Anderson, but even if you haven’t seen his previous films (like me) you might be converted after watching the magic and charm of Moonrise Kingdom.
4 out of 5.
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