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Moonrise Kingdom

September 4, 2013

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Director: Wes Anderson
Actors: Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Bruce Willis

kara-hayward-as-suzy-in-moonrise-kingdom-2-190x106.jpg (190×106)

Synopsis: In an isolated island off the coast of New England in the 1960s, two children – Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) – run away and attract a huge search party from all the varied personalities of that island and beyond.

Review: Wes Anderson has been working towards this film his whole career. His previous narratives have always been shaded by their players – whimsical and disillusioned adults wedged with child-like personalities and nostalgic yearnings for the ‘past’ (motifs for Anderson himself)? Well, here in Moonrise Kingdom comes Anderson’s direct ode to childhood, with his modus operandi being ironically flipped and centred around two bold adolescents Sam and Suzy, conspiring all-too-wilfully to take on the rituals and responsibilities of adult life.

It really is such a sweet-natured film – not too gooey, but pitched just right in finding the earnest rebellion of Sam and Suzy endearing and comic, but also doused in an elegiac balm of poignancy (perhaps reflected in the fact Anderson set this in the 1960s – an act of ‘looking back’)? As ever with Anderson, the cinematography and production design is ingenious and to-die-for, and his famed tracking shots find great mileage in the opening scan of Camp Ivanhoe, presided over by Edward Norton’s man-child-cum-scout leader. It’s a reminder that as well as being a flourish of camerawork, these tracking shots are marvels of theatrical timing and logistics, as the various scouts’ crazy contraptions come into view.

To be ultra-critical, the narrative does kind of dissipate in the final-third, almost as if beyond Anderson’s initial conception of this insular windswept island and the act of childhood rebellion that takes place on it, he hasn’t really thought through how to develop that dialectic to feature-film format. At best, I read the climax to the film as Anderson’s quasi-Charlie Kaufmann pastiche of third act conclusions and the necessity for some kind of action/thriller resolution. All-in-all though, it’s a wonderful film, teeming with empathy for its characters, and as mentioned earlier, possessing of a deceptively sincere gaze over the wonders of childhood. (September 2013)

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