Moonrise Kingdom, 2012, USA
I’m not sure if I’ve ever professed my love and adoration for Wes Anderson on this blog before, so I’ll do it now. Anderson is one of my favourite filmmakers, and his work has always really spoken to me. I love the humour of his films, and their endearing quirkiness. He has the ability to create remarkable settings, and memorable characters. He’s just amazing. And Moonrise Kingdom is probably his best film to date.
Moonrise Kingdom is a beautiful nod to childhood. It’s wonderfully nostalgic, charming and sweet. Sam (Jared Gilman) is a young orphan who escapes from the Khaki Scouts to run away with Suzy (Kara Hayward), a troubled young girl. When it’s discovered that the two children are missing, a desperate search is undertaken by Suzy’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), and Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis).
What I loved about the film was its honesty. The children are 12 years old, so they’re quickly approaching adolescence, and Anderson depicts them accurately. Their relationship is innocent at times, but it was also remarkably grown up. The two kids were so sweet and fun to watch. Hayward and Gilman are both talented young actors and their willingness to go far beyond what one normally sees in child performances is admirable. They both have very bright careers ahead of them. While the characters in the film are not grounded in realism in any way, the film is meant as fantasy. Anderson builds his own charming worlds when he makes movies.
The sense of nostalgia is one of the things I loved most about this film. Who didn’t have a crush when they were a preteen? My childhood crush went unreciprocated, but, ultimately, that didn’t matter, because at that age, I felt a rush simply sitting in the same “desk cluster” as him. I lacked the discretion at the time to avoid dissolving into joyful giggles whenever he talked to me or even looked at me, so it was obvious that I had quite the little crush. And, while I never ran away from home, what child doesn’t fantasize about running away to the wilderness?
The film itself is hilarious. The “adults” give admirable and memorable performances in addition to the children. Edward Norton was especially great as Scout Master Ward. I thought his character was so interesting, and he had some of the funniest lines, as well. Bruce Willis was great, as well. At first, I wasn’t quite sure if he’d be “right” for a Wes Anderson film, but he did a great job with his role, and his character was very endearing and almost sad, at times.
If you like Anderson’s other work, you’ll almost certainly find great joy in Moonrise Kingdom. It was just a delightful film.