By Michael Kalafatis (Stoke on Trent)
Moonrise Kingdom takes place in 1965 in an island called New Penzance “16 miles long forested with old- growth pine and maple chickchaw territory and no paved roads and a ferry that runs twice daily “. Wes Anderson seventh feature film sees him returning to live action feature after the charming Fantastic Mr. Fox, a stop motion animation.
The main characters of the film are two unpopular kids who run away. Sam (Jared Gilman) an orphan who attends the Khaki Scout summer camp runs away with Suzy (Kara Hayward) who wants to leave behind her dysfunctional family, together they camp and fall in love. Suzy parents are played by Bill Murray, who always makes a memorable appearance in every Wes Anderson film and Frances Mcdormand, as they search for their kids we see how troubled is their marriage but mostly how unhappy they are with each other. Edward Norton plays the Scout Master Randy who was supposed to look after Sam and Bruce Willis plays Captain Duffy a half-witted police officer, these characters Anderson uses to show that wisdom sometime does not come with old age because Sam and Suzy manage to outsmart most of the adult in Moonrise Kingdom.
Anderson manages to create a weird but also unique world where there is sadness all throughout like marital problems and the way they can affect a family as a whole, a thing that Wes Anderson is very familiar with as his parents’ divorced when he was still very young, that is the reason he can relate to the hardship of a person who is an orphan, who tries unsuccessfully to fit in just like Sam and Suzy. But there is also a satirical side in Moonrise Kingdom as Anderson uses the Khaki Scouts as a way to show how similar they are with the military even though they wear less serious attire but they still follow the rules and regulations that is necessary to be a good khaki scout just like the military.
In Moonrise Kingdom we find the usual Anderson traits like tracking shots, a doll house approach to the real world and a colour palette of khaki, brown and green which are very vivid as they film takes place in the 1960s and with help of his long time cinematographer Robert Yeoman he manages to create a world that has abundant charm and beautifully composed shots like the montage of Suzy and Sam reading each other’s letters. But the soundtrack also greatly enhance what Anderson has envisioned, it is composed by Alexander Desplat who creates a sound that resembles the music of the 1960s but also incorporate other artist of that era like the French singer Françoise Hardy who Suzy listens to.
The only thing that non Wes Anderson fans we find that is wrong is that the Moonrise Kingdom is overfamiliar and does not differ greatly from Anderson other feature films, because like his others films there is wry humor, melancholy, highly styled settings and composition.
Verdict: Superbly acted and directed, Wes Anderson at his best creates a charming and perfectly orchestrated film that is both evocative and weirdly charming. Even though his films are not for everyone every film lover should give Moonrise Kingdom a chance and it might just surprise you.