Films | Moonrise Kingdom – Movie Review

Moonrise Kingdom – Movie Review

Posted by FATEMA H.KAGALWALA on September 23, 2012 | No Comments

PRODUCER – Jeremy Dawson, Scott Rudin, Wes Anderson, Steven M. Rales
DIRECTOR – Wes Anderson
WRITER – Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
CAST – Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban
MUSIC – Alexandre Desplat

Childhood spawns so many stories to tell and Wes Anderson picks up his from the cusp of childhood waiting to burst into teens. He gives it his own style of quirky imagination and presents to us a deliciously subverted world we recognise closely but yet don’t.

Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) is a 12yr-old orphan attending a Khakhi Scout Camp headed by Scout Master Randy Ward (Edward Norton) on the fictional idyllic island of New Penzance in the 60’s where he meets 12 yr old Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward). She lives on the island with her parents Walt (Bill Murray) and Laura (Frances McDormand) and her three brothers. Precocious and angst-ridden, both children feel like misfists and develop a close friendship after a year of being pen pals. They run away together in search of a particular cove leaving their parents and guardians flustered at their disappearance. Troubled and unusually mature for their age they strike a deep affinity for each other, which soon turns to tender love. But there is the world of elders to deal with before they can make this love their own.

The film is at once tender and sad yet bathed in an ingeniously quirky light. Recalling all the anxiety of uneasy childhood and the impact it has on especially serious children, it sets its feet in a firmly fairy-tale kind setting. There is an entire world of pain, hardship and dystopia behind the children and the film reflects it gently in its adult world, making it intuitively realistic while dealing with the children’s with an imagination. Very subtly, it removes the baggage of their age from their characters and love story yet leaves it to become the central point of struggle between their and the adult world. A world that comes to grow far more than the little ones do by the end of the film.

Wes Anderson has made the sensibility of oddball, romantic and off-centre consciousness his own and that is the mood we meet throughout his filmography. Moonrise Kingdom sparkles with a delectable brilliance because here he manages to beautifully balance the pithy sub-text of his story with the facile and deadpan sense of humour he employs.
The children running away, their parents and their affairs (literally and otherwise), Social Services, the friendships and enmities within the scouts, the tongue-in-cheek ending, all are detailed with a keen eye on the transience of childhood and the lasting nature of things that matter – Love, companionship and human goodness.

In this, the biblical story of Noah’s Ark and its operatic piece by Benjamin Britten “Noye’s Fludde” becomes a central theme in exploring this ‘going back to childhood’ and all the innocence it stands for. And Anderson employs his cast to brilliant effect to achieve this, be it Frances McDormand’s unbalanced and hassled mother, Bill Murray’s (an Anderson regular) tired and passive father, Bruce Willis’ good-hearted but heart-broken police official, Edward Norton’s idealistic yet ineffective scout master or Tilda Swinton’s caricaturish Social Services officer. But in the foreground of this strong ensemble cast are the two children Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward who make their characters delightfully un-self-conscious yet weighted with the angst of their world.

Moonrise Kingdom is at once tragic and comic, deep and subtle and constantly measuring the distance between coming-of-age and having arrived. Woven out of our everyday prosaic realities and harking back to the age of innocence, it is brilliant imagination at work.

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