Turn off the Lights

Moonrise Kingdom Review

Kieran’s Rating: 8/10
Player Affinity Composite Rating: 8.5/10
(2 reviews total)

Starting with dream-like visual and a bright color pallet, quick filming style and framing, Moonrise Kingdom is the latest movie to come from the strange world of Wes Anderson that should delight fans and most newcomers to his work.

On the New England island of New Penzance, this quirky 1965-set adventure tells the story of two 12-year-olds, orphan Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) and the troubled Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), two runaways who try to escape their dysfunctional lives. As their friendship and romance starts to bloom, the island’s police chief, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) leads a search with Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), Suzy’s lawyers parents (Bill Murphy and Frances McDormand) and a troop of boy scouts to find the wayward youths as the movie becomes more and more surreal and provides plenty of “what the hell” moments.


There will be people who would be hostile to Anderson’s work and style, but Moonrise Kingdom should still be able to entertain the majority of moviegoers because of the excellent screenplay that provides a touching story, quirky characters and excellent jokes. The witty dialogue was enhanced by great performances, particularly from Willis and Norton who both have engaging screen presence.

Anderson’s gives us a technically wonderful movie that uses tracking shots to keep the flow of the comedy going as foreground and background gags are presents. There are beautifully framed shots of the actors when the character is focused on them and long takes to maximize the performances. The cinematography of wide shots, the locations, and set design helps add to the surrealism of this world and some of the more whimsical scenes as the children adventure into the wild.


Moonrise Kingdom is led by two first-time child actors and they do a fine job; both Gilman and Hayward should go far in acting if they choose to continue. Moonrise Kingdom is a typical story about two outsiders who embark on a unusual friendship that becomes a more adult romantic one in nature. Be warned, there will be semi-naked prepubescent children on screen, which adds creepiness to the proceedings. The movie would have failed if Gilman and Hayward were not compelling performers, but they were up to the job.

Both children come from dysfunctional backgrounds, a continuous theme of Anderson movies. Sam is an orphan who is described as emotionally disturbed, but even though he is a little eccentric, he is a decent kid and for the most part it is just a case of a boy’s situation forcing a label on him. His former parents were selfish, passing the buck because they did not know how to deal with him.


On the otherhand, Suzy is from a well-off middle class family, yet she is the one with emotional issues, ranging from being cold and distant to even being willing to use violence. She is a product of her environment because her parents hardly communicate with each other except for legal speak and use megaphones to round up the children. Suzy is of course going to act out in an environment like this. It is an illustration that problems involving childhood exist in the middle classes and that parents overcomplicate the issue instead of tackling it head on.

The parents and guardians are selfish, only caring about themselves instead of the children. Anderson uses Tilda Swinton’s character to take satirical swipes at Social Services, who look at a child’s file more then the child themselves. The adults argue and fall into an anarchical state, even Willis and Norton, who play the more likeable of the adult characters, are still faulted in their actions, lives, and/or abilities.


Throughout the majority of the movie is percussion-heavy music in the background that keeps up the tempo and rarely stops. It gives the movie a more dramatic tone as the action builds. It sometimes even creates a Western feel as the children survive in the wild, in addition to tension during the various chases the children endure.

Moonrise Kingdom is a strange and surreal experience that will provide smiles and chuckles when you are soaked into Anderson’s weird world. It will appeal mostly to Anderson’s loyal fans, but there is still enough material in the movie for non-fans to enjoy as we examine an unusual friendship. Rating: 8/10


John thought:Moonrise Kingdom opens with a shot of an immaculately tidy room in a quaint, old-fashioned home on the New England coast. Suddenly, the camera pans right on the perfectly straight line to another such room, with three similarly—and oddly—dressed boys. They play a symphonic record and sit down in perfect symmetry. It all happens in a matter of 30 seconds or less, but it’s all the time we need to identify the film’s director. Ladies and gentlemen, Moonrise Kingdom is a Wes Anderson production through and through. Of course, there are few filmmakers more polarizing than the guy who brought us The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic. For some, he’s a savior of American cinema. For others, a colonoscopy would be more enjoyable than sitting though one of his films. Moonrise Kingdom isn’t going to win over this pro-colonoscopy set, but ardent Anderson supporters will be thoroughly satisfied with what he has to offer.” Rating: 9/10

 

Rating
8.5

Liked this article? Try These!

Comments

Meet the Author

Follow Us