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Written by: Sam Fragoso on June 21, 2012

June 21, 2012 | 12 comments | Featured

Operating on a level of fantasy rather than reality, Wes Anderson is a romantic visionary of sorts. With Moonrise Kingdom being the seventh film in his steadily increasing oeuvre, the Texas born filmmaker proves (once again) to be one of the few innovative auteurs working today.

Anderson’s latest whimsical tale of young love revolves around Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward). The boy is an orphan stuck in a household that won’t take him back. The girl is the outcast of a six-person family, including a father (Bill Murray) and mother (Frances McDormand) that are having marital issues due to some possible infidelity.

As with any Wes Anderson picture the characters are painted thin, but with nuance. Sam and Suzy just simply want to be together. But as with any romantic relationship when you’re 12, they’re boundaries and restrictions and parents. In spite of those obstacles the two precocious preteens decide to run away from home together and start a new life, away from the New England Island they’re stranded on.

Frantic and perplexed, the parents of Suzy, along with the local Captain (Bruce Willis) and the scout pack Sam was once apart of led by a master Scout (Edward Norton); there’s an Island-wide lookout for the adolescent fugitive lovers.

Dispersed between the long stretches of searching for these two kids is the blissful act of falling in love with someone. Sam is an oddity of a child, and so is Suzy. Whether you believe in the entity of a soul mate or not, it’s difficult to deny that these two weren’t made for eachother. Fleeting away from the law, parents, and reality, we see Sam and Suzy interact, converse, and ultimately make themselves emotionally vulnerable to one another.

The tour de force of a cast keeps those moments intercut throughout the screenplay engaging. Norton as the Scout Ward who’s dedicated to finding his fellow solider, Willis as the local officer who provides an unexpected hand of friendship to Sam, and both Murray and McDormand as the married couple going through a rough patch, all add their bits of humor and sincerity.

However, similar to how Murray and McDormand perpetually impede Sam and Suzy being together, Wes Anderson – with his excessive need for quirky dialogue and painfully obvious character developments – continuously hindered my personal experience with a lot of the material on display.

As with any film that offers romance, intellect, and entertainment, I attempted to connect with Moonrise Kingdom on not only an artistic level, but an emotional one. Every time I pushed and pulled, the doors remained shut, unable to open for the light I was seeking.

Although, if Wes Anderson does anything with more proficiency than creating original screenplays, it’s his ingenious style of filmmaking that depicts life unlike any auteur we’ve seen. Some will wave their hands up in praise and some will wave their hands up in disdain. But no matter the response, there should be admiration for his vision.

Rating: ★★½☆

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Cast: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray

Director: Wes Anderson

Writer: Roman Coppola, Wes Anderson

Runtime: 94 minutes

Genre: romance, drama, comedy

Trailer Moonrise Kingdom


There are 12 comments for this post.

  1. Dan O. on June 21, 2012 9:59 am

    Loved this movie so much and I’m glad that Anderson has finally come back to making stories that touch the heart, rather than just show how quirky and different of a film-maker he can be. Great cast, too. Nice review Sam.

  2. Sam Fragoso on June 21, 2012 11:54 am

    This didn’t touch my heart, which I’m a bit upset by (as I was desiring something from Anderson to do such). Glad you enjoyed it Dan.

  3. Andy Buckle on June 21, 2012 5:09 pm

    I loved this. I was amused for the entire duration and I thought the kids were fantastic. The adults – especially Willis and Norton – were effectively given arcs too. Anderson’s attention to detail; his costumes, his meticulous framing, is also at its best here. I think it is one of his best films. I haven’t even mention Desplat’s bizarre score. Definitely a highlight of the SFF. Shame you didn’t dig it quite as much, but its hard to dismiss his vision, you’re right.

  4. Sam Fragoso on June 21, 2012 8:53 pm

    Desplat is always wonderful to listen to. And the “meticulous framing”, good call on that one. I don’t agree with your assessment of the children. Some moments I enjoyed their presence, other times I found them off-putting.

  5. 3guys1movie on June 22, 2012 1:32 am

    I thought this was the best film I have seen so far this year. So refreshing to have a well written script for a change. Especially after recently suffering through MIB3 and Prometheus. This may be Anderson’s most approachable film thus far.

  6. Sam Fragoso on June 22, 2012 2:51 pm

    Well yes, in contrast to MIB3 and Prometheus, this is superlative. But that’s pretty low-praise. I read your review of the film – which I believe I also left a comment on – good stuff. It’s relatively fresh, but not positive it’s his most well written screenplay.

  7. Simon on June 23, 2012 3:47 am

    I defo have admiration for his vision, but im not keen on his intentions. Often he has much darker subtexts (in this case, foster-homes/parents, behaviour issues for children, etc) and it feels as if such darker themes deserve more respect. Don’t get me wrong, I love his style, but it kinda trivialises and simplifies very serious issues … like a posh kid commenting on poverty.

  8. Sam Fragoso on June 23, 2012 3:50 am

    That’s a very unique point Simon — and the more I think about, the more I’m starting to agree with you. The style taking over the substance.

  9. James on June 23, 2012 11:09 am

    “Moonrise Kingdom” felt like watching a parody of a Wes Anderson, with it’s twee, self-satisfied, hipster sensibility. You get the feeling everyone involved in the film patted themselves on the back and congratulated each other how ironic and funny they were. I did laugh when the dog got the arrow through the neck, though. Otherwise, I pretty much hated this movie, the cinematic equivalent of some dude wearing skinny jeans, non-prescription horn-rim glasses and an “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” t-shirt.

  10. Sam Fragoso on June 24, 2012 3:17 am

    Agree with most of your sentiments. And that final analogy … very interesting and oddly specific.

  11. James Blake Ewing on June 27, 2012 9:17 pm

    I had a similar experience. I admire what he’s doing, but it just didn’t connect with me at all. Compared to Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I thought was fantastic, this film was just awkward. I could never get a feel for why I should be invested in these characters. An admirable try, but Anderson has done much, much better.

  12. Sam Fragoso on June 27, 2012 10:21 pm

    I agree. Looking forward to catching The Royal Tenenbaums soon.

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