I first saw Moonrise Kingdom a few weeks back in preparation for Bums on Seats, Cambridge 105’s film review show which I’m fortunate enough to occasionally turn up on. Wes Anderson’s latest was enthusiastically received by us all, but I never got a chance to write up my thoughts. Its ongoing steady success at the UK box-office – nearly £1.5m banked so far – is worth celebrating, so here are my two cents (better late than never, eh?).
The King of Ameriquirk (that breed of hip, modern film which deliberately goes out of its way to be strange, offbeat, ironic and uncool), Anderson returns with possibly his finest work to date. A charming coming of age tale about first love, it has the feel of a children’s film made by children, but with an expensive cast and decent production values. The colourful 16mm photography lends a lovely homemade quality to the 1960s-set tale, yet it’s masterfully assembled.
The top drawer supporting cast includes the always reliable Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton and Tilda Swinton. But the two young leads – Kara Hayward as the depressed Suzy and Jared Gilman as the determined Sam – are the real stars. Sharing a similar sense of rejection at home, Sam plots for them both to escape by trekking across the rugged terrain of the New England island where they live and setting up camp in a remote cove.
In Anderson’s world, adults act like children and children like adults; seemingly the only sensible people on the island are the young lovers. The grown-ups all appear to have significant issues that make them unreliable in some way, whether it’s McDormand’s unhappy housewife or Willis’ inadequate cop. This rather neatly leads the adult viewer to see the story through the eyes of the children, almost making you forget their ages. It’s rare for a film to make you feel like you’re a child again (in a good way), but Anderson succeeds admirably.
At 90 minutes long it doesn’t outstay its welcome, if you are naturally averse to this sort of quirky yarn, and the soundtrack is a delight. In short it’s a beguiling slice of cinematic whismy, and I insist you catch it on the big screen if you still can.