The inseparable power of young love against the reality of middle-aged ennui is at the heart of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom.
The film tells the story of Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) who have fallen in love through a one off meeting at a church production of the story of Noah’s ark. The following summer they decide to run away together having only kept in touch via letters. Sam escapes from the scout camp run by the fantastic Ed Norton as Scout Master Ward. Suzy slips unnoticed from her family life with her parents Bill Murray and Frances Mc Dormand too wrapped up in living separate lives to immediately notice. Once the alarm is raised the whole island lends in to help find the missing children and as a result many people are forced to examine their life and it’s meaning.
You can tell a Wes Anderson film a mile off. His attention to detail when it comes to the sets, deadpan dialogue and musical touches throughout have you in no doubt who’s behind the camera. A criticism often levelled at Anderson is how his films are all style over substance, self-indulgent navel-gazing twaddle. In some ways they are, but I find it astonishing his attention to detail, you know looking at every scene that there isn’t a single object out of place, each item having been carefully arranged to result in one of the most aesthetically pleasing films of the year.
Apart from the original score, Hank Williams features a few times on the soundtrack which does a lot to set the mood, his voice alone causing the most optimistic among us to stop and take stock. I’ve found Anderson’s previous work more humorous (The Life Aquatic, The Royal Tenenbaums) although they are many laughs to be had here, especially from Jason Schwartzman who turns up for a brief cameo as a Milo Minderbinder type character and nearly walks away with the best performance of the movie.
Bruce Willis is fantastic as the down trodden island police officer. Resigned to his post on the island and in life. He seems to be shuffling through in search of some validation and this may have finally come across with the missing children. Bruce and Ed become very concerned with the outcome of the boy’s fate, it’s as if his troubles and strifes remind them of their own childhood and they want to make sure his life doesn’t turn out like their own. All the men are pretty lost at sea (I doubt it was an accident the film was set on an island), with Bill Murray doing his usual search for meaning stchik while all the women are much stronger and sure of what they want and need. In each dynamic it’s the women who are calling the shots.
I recently watched Tarantino do an interview where he said how difficult it is to be a writer director as each time you’re starting from scratch. This is crucial for him, as if he just directed eventually he’d lose his voice and would find it pointless to carry on churning out rubbish. You can’t help but think that the same is true with Anderson’s pictures. Like all good directors his films carry his unique stamp while at the same time throwing up new ways to look at life. Anderson is a lighthouse in a movie world awash with driftwood.
USA / Directed By: Wes Anderson / Written By: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola / Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Jason Schwartzman / 104min / Comedy, Drama / Release: 25 May 2012 (UK, Ireland), June 1st 2012 (US, Canada)