Wes Anderson takes us on an adventure through young love, being a kid, and the fun of taking on a hurricane with Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, and Bill Murray. It’s Moonrise Kingdom and it’s a beauty!
If you didn’t catch my article earlier this week which was A Study of Wes Anderson I prepared for this film by looking over the director’s previous work. I’m glad I did because it made this film all the more gratifying. Moonrise Kingdom is a beautiful little film that dives into the relationship between a boy and girl who decide to run away on an island and live on their own. The parents of the girl and a troop of Khaki scouts trail after them trying to bring them back before a storm hits the island. Anderson does a wonderful job of bringing that feeling of youthful love to the two lead characters and this touch is what makes the film special.
Like one of Anderson’s stronger films Rushmore, a slew of kid actors are in this film and like Rushmore they are all very strong and give good performances for being children. Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) are the two kids that run away together. Both actors are in their first film and while they aren’t perfect performances it is still great work for two first time kid actors. But the two stand out performances in my mind came from Bruce Willis and Edward Norton. Willis played Captain Sharp, the police officer put in charge of finding the kids, he gives a very warming performance and one that is kind of unexpected for him as he is a vulnerable and somewhat tortured man who is in love with a woman who doesn’t reciprocate it (Not very John McClain huh?). Norton plays the scout master of the Khaki scout troop that Sam is a part of. He does a great job and has a nice chemistry with Sam in a few scenes but really shines in the comedic role. Bill Murray has his most dramatic role yet in an Anderson film and does fine work as the father of Suzy. Frances McDormand gives a strong performance as Suzy’s mother and there are a nice few spots from Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Kitel, and Tilda Swinton.
The strongest part of this film though is its script and the story within it. Anderson and Roman Coppola do a wonderful job of capturing that youthful love and friendship. Gilman and Hayward do a great job of presenting those kid figures that Anderson is trying to capture within the audience. What he does so well and better than any of his films yet is structure these characters. He has his characters with faults that are plaguing them like in Fantastic Mr. Fox and The Royal Tenenbaums as Willis is struggling to get himself up after the woman he loved rejected him and Murray struggles with parenting Suzy who seems to always have a problem. Like in those previous films, Anderson gives ways for the characters to cope with their problems and by the end they are better off than what they were at the beginning. He keeps that impeccable comedic quirkiness that he has had in all his films and each actor buys into it and the payoff is great as usual.
I don’t want to end this article without mentioning the music which features a lot of Benjamin Britten in it. The fusion of Britten and the story is incredible and you can tell this music influenced Anderson a lot in the course of writing and preparing this film.
In conclusion, Moonrise Kingdom is easily the best film so far this year and is an absolute pleasure to watch. I highly recommend you go and see it before it leaves theatres because it is one of those films that makes you realize why you fell in love with cinema in the first place as Anderson gives you a fantastic story that’s both fun and delightful at the same time.