Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
There is no doubt in the world that this is a Wes Anderson film. The visuals, themes, and actors that he has used over the years all return to allow us all fall in love with cinema (and youth) once again. And there’s nothing like it in the world – young love, first love. Once you’re in it, it’s gone only a distant memory hopefully being felt again. That’s what this film did to me – that notion of realising your passion – but more over provided me with the visual joy.
The year is 1965, on a remote American island known as New Penzance where two 12-year-old pen pals plan to run away together after falling hopelessly in love with one another. Before you shy away and question if this is mushy rubbish, remember this is Wes Anderson (and co-wrote by Roman Coppola). The film does not even attempt to try be mushy, rather the awkwardness of youth love echoes through and becomes a spectacle for the viewer.
In recent films, Anderson has had adults act more like children, rejecting any sign of responsibility. While Moonrise Kingdom plays on the other notion of children who have matured well before society says they should. The story in itself is a sweet tale, followed by the repercussions of a major event.
Sam Shakusky (played by Jared Gilman) is a rejected child by his foster parents who is attending a “Khaki Scout” summer camp, Camp Ivanhoe, led by Scout Master Ward (played by Edward Norton). Attending a church performance of Noye’s Fludde the summer prior, Sam met Suzy Bishop (played by Kara Hayward) who was in the play. The two became pen pals, and planned to simply run away together under the noses of all their guardians.
Hilariously, Sam packs his camping gear while Suzy packs six books, her cat, and a record player. Apart from the attributes to their characters, and social roles this perception of being with someone and then packing completely different items raises an important life value – you don’t know what you’re going to get in a relationship. But the story continues, and the two spend the next few days hiking and camping together with the goal of reaching a secluded cove on the island, which they name Moonrise Kingdom.
After the self questioning moments pass of “art” versus “am I legally allowed to watch this”, you witness one of the most innocent, sincere, and joyful moments in storytelling. The moment Sam and Suzy dance on the beach in their underwear, kiss, and fall in love is phenomenal. The portrayal by young actors places the performances at such professionalism, and clean execution. Meticulously perfect.
But like all good films, timing in a comedy is everything. The moment Suzy’s parents [Walt (played by Bill Murray) and Laura (played by Frances McDormand)], Police Captain Sharp (played by Bruce Willis), and Scout Master Ward, and the scouts discover the two sleeping together at the cove. Priceless. I cannot stress the joy this film brings. It is filmmaking and storytelling at its finest.
After the discovery the two lovers are banned from seeing each other. Suzy returns home, and Sam goes to live with Captain Sharp until social services to put Sam in a “juvenile refuge”. But in a turn of events, the bullies who torment Sam find it in their heart to make the lovers escape, again.
After many turns, and surprises the two end up together after seeing Sam exit through Suzy’s window as she is called to dinner.
As you can tell this is really a simple film. Bare bones and minimalistic which creates this plethora of beauty. Every shot is perfect. The costumes are amazing. And the cinematography is (is you follow my love for Kodachrome) breathtaking. It is a highly reccomended film, and while you’re at it go and buy all of Wes Anderson’s films!