“I’ll be out back. I’m gonna find a tree to chop down.”
Moonrise Kingdom is a painting come to life. It is the latest splendid work from auteur Wes Anderson, filled with dynamic characters that chew on beautiful scenery. It’s easy to pick out an Anderson work. It’s the colours that literally pop from every frame; or the back-and-forth between every memorable personality.
Although littered with Anderson staples, Kingdom is his premier film that takes place in the past (1960′s), and one led by children, newcomers at that. These firsts somehow inject even more originality into an already inventive labour. Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are Sam and Suzy, two misunderstood youths looking for a friendship and freedom. Sam is an orphan, living with foster parents that don’t want him, and involved in a scout group that he grows tired of. He politely and secretly deserts to the chagrin of Scout Master Randy Ward (Edward Norton), trekking to the woods outside of the fictional New England town, New Penzance. Suzy is an old soul, enjoying reading and listening to French music on her brother’s record player. Although privileged with a nice home and a nuclear family (her parents are the hysterical Frances McDormand and Bill Murray), she is equally unhappy. A year prior, Sam meets Suzy while involved in a local performance of Noah’s Fludde. They become instant friends, later penpals; they soon piece together a plot to run away with one another.
And so begins a childhunt for the missing youths led by Scout Master Ward and Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis). Things get weird in typically quirky fashion. I’ll avoid spoilers, but there are boys, bows and arrows, bloodshed, and lefty scissors. In one of the great passages of the year, Sam and Suzy share a few tender moments in a secluded cove, divulging secrets and touches. I wrote of budding affection in last year’s superb, Like Crazy, a film about two college students who fall head over heels for each other. These two films share the same initial innocence.
As it goes with Anderson productions, his plots are never long winded or complicated, but rather effortless. The Royal Tenenbaums was about a family reunion; The Life Aquatic deals with the the search for the elusive Jaguar shark; The Darjeeling Limited chronicles three brothers as they travel by train through India. This isn’t a shot at them by any means. The straightforwardness of the narrative only succeeds due to the more intricate cogs that operate it. Because, The Royal Tenanbaums is about impending death and the ability to face it; The Life Aquatic is about reconnecting with loved ones and the journey for something greater than yourself; The Darjeeling Limited is about the exploration for one’s soul and self awareness. You see, Moonrise Kingdom is not just about a boy and a girl as they romp through the wilderness. Rather, it speaks of kin, and forgiveness, and young love (the least contaminated kind).
I want to live in a Wes Anderson world. I feel like I’d just sit around and spout adjectives all day, describing the canvas I was living in. Once more Anderson has produced a striking tale, one stocked to the top of Scout 55′s brown khaki shorts with humour, and somehow fantastical wonder. Sam and Suzy feel comfortable in their new surroundings, yet they seem to be aware that their simplistic days are numbered. For ones so young, they innately understand what goes on, when their elders only flounder at the most elementary acts.
Production Notes: Directed by Wes Anderson; Produced by Jeremy Dawson, Scott Rudin, Wes Anderson, Steven M. Rales; Written by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola; Starring Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balaban