Now before I begin, I have to say that I am not fully familiar with the works of Wes Anderson. I have only seen one of his films before (which was Fantastic Mr Fox) but I understand the distinctive style of Wes Anderson. With that said, Moonrise Kingdom is probably the most Wes-Andersonian film, which I think people who are familiar with the works of Wes Anderson will agree with me and if this is the type of film Anderson normally makes then I need to see the rest of his filmography as Moonrise Kingdom is an incredible film.
Firstly, I need to mention the look of the film. This film is such an epitomisation of small-town America in the 1960s and there’s a certain charm in this style ranging from the design of the sets to the music to the costumes. We get a real sense of community support and caring amongst the different characters in the film, especially a sense of comradery amongst the scouts in the hunting scenes. This sense of community gives a real feeling that you know these characters and as such you get to like these characters more and more as the movie progresses.
The likeability factor of these characters is also helped by the fact that the performances by the main cast are excellent. Frances McDormand and Bill Murray show genuine feelings of concern over the loss of a daughter and the fear in McDormand over a separate issue, which I won’t spoil in this review, also feels really genuine. Tilda Swinton is in full White Witch mode as Social Services (I just love the fact that her character is called Social Services by the way). The actors playing the boy scouts are all great fun to watch and portray a great sense of comradery and friendship. Bruce Willis is playing the anti Bruce Willis role as the police captain and he is great fun to watch, allowing Willis to give one of his best performances in years with his complete deadpan expressions and serious attitude to just how ridiculous everything gets. Bob Balaban has some fun in a small role as the narrator of the film, and this fun in small roles transcends to the small cameos by Harvey Keitel and Jason Swartzman.. The performances by the main kids, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, are excellent, the two have a great chemistry, nail the wise-beyond-their-years schtick and have some brilliant dialogue between each other. The standout by far though is Edward Norton, Norton is such great fun to watch as the scout master, displaying signs of innocence and concern for the other scouts with a little bit of annoyance over the situation. Norton commands the screen whenever he is on screen and his deadpan delivery helps make the first scene with him in, when he’s going around Camp Ivanoe, my favourite scene in the film.
The plot of the film is great as well, taking the standard romance cliche, a boy and girl running away with each other, and completely subverting it, showing the insanity that results from it which affects everyone involved. It helps that the main characters do feel completely right for each other. We see that they both have emotional difficulties in their lives and feel that they cannot work well with others in normal society and as such, these two social outcasts are naturally drawn to each other in a mutual attraction with the realistic dialogue between the two providing for one of the best on screen romances I’ve seen recently and helps provide a lot of the sweetness and charm of the film. It helps that there is some genuine weight to the relationship succeeding on Sam’s end, which I won’t spoil in this review.
This is probably the hardest film for me to review as I literally don’t know how to say how good it is without spoiling the film because of how weird and surreal the film gets. Rest assured that Moonrise Kingdom is an incredible film and, in my opinion, a perfect introduction to the world of Wes Anderson.
My Rating: 5/5