Sunday, June 10, 2012

Movie Review: Moonrise Kingdom

Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Written by: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton and Bill Murray

For every fan of Wes Anderson's directorial efforts, there are the naysayers who brush off his whimsical comedies as emotionless trifles. While Anderson's style may not be to everyone's taste it's hard to deny the impact of Moonrise Kingdom's wonderful, poignant script.

Set on an island off the New England coast in 1965, Anderson's latest is arguably his best since 1998's cult classic, Rushmore. Twelve-year-olds Sam and Suzy (fantastic newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) fall in love and, after spending months apart while Sam -- a Khaki Scout -- is away at camp, decide to run away together. Suzy's parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray) enlist a group of ragtag townspeople, from the Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) to the police Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), to help them track down the runaways.

Anderson's sharp script and precocious leads envelope the film in a nostalgic embrace -- despite its fantastical elements it feels grounded in reality, reminding you of your first childhood crush. Suzy treks through the wilderness with her kitten, record player and favourite books to meet Sam, searching for a place to belong. Sam, an orphan, is eager for a sense of family, something he feels Suzy can provide. These two lonely kids are the heart of soul of Moonrise Kingdom and Gilman and Hayward have a natural chemistry together. The duo nail Anderson's dry, witty dialogue.

The rest of the talented cast is comprised of both Anderson regulars and a couple of new faces (Norton, especially, fits in comfortably, taking on a rare comedic role). Like other Anderson films, the stories he creates are detached from the rest of the world -- however, the issues that come up are relatable: first love, impeding divorce, depression and isolation.

In a summer filled with action sequels and comic book superheroes, Moonrise Kingdom is a welcome treat -- funny, sweet and whimsical. It's an elegantly strange confection.



  1. You're lucky you lived somewhere where they showed. I want to see this movie really bad but they never showed it in my town.

    1. Maybe it will come eventually? I live in Toronto and we usually get the same releases as New York and L.A. I hope you get the chance!

  2. It's still in limited release at this point I think...Since it's actually set some records for limited release films, I have to think they will expand at some point soon (I read somewhere that it might go wide by June 22nd or the 29th, but I forget where I saw that now).

    It really is fantastic though. Short of a couple of the docs I saw at Hot Docs, it's easily the best thing I've seen this year (depending on the day, I would even rank it as my overall number 1 for the year so far). If there aren't any big cathartic emotional moments, they really aren't needed - the emotion comes from just enjoying these characters so much. I didn't want the film to end...

    1. Hey! Thanks for stopping by, Bob. How was the rest of your Tuesday night last week?

      Yeah, it's definitely at the top of my list for 2012 so far. Although, I guess that isn't saying much at this point. I totally know what you mean about the characters, especially the two leads. It was a simple story, wonderfully told.

    2. Hi Laura...The monthly Tuesday blogger nights are always fun filled. B-)

      I was actually hoping to chat since I know you are also a Noir fan. Are you on the list for the monthly invites?

      I don't know if Moonrise can hang on to the top spot (especially with The Master on its way), but I know that I can't wait to see it again. Hmmm, I should rectify that soon...

  3. Looks like an interesting film. Looking forward to checking it out. I see you liked it!