This is a review I wrote of Moonrise Kingdom for my writing class….
Moonrise Kingdom (2012) takes viewers on a nostalgic childhood adventure which finds joy, turmoil and aims for lasting love in a world which fails to fully acknowledge the intricate serious of losses that characterise growing up.
Review written by Zoe Annabel.
In his aesthetically dreamy 1960’s style masterpiece Moonrise Kingdom, director Wes Anderson brings to life his two central characters and their mutual dissatisfaction with worlds they inhabit and invites us to join their construction of new brighter one with gusto and sentimental charm. His latest foray into the theme of beauty in escapism does not disappoint and for viewers, is much like re-entering the playful, sunny world of childhood. Anderson imbues his youngsters Suzy Bishop, the heavy eye-lidded, blacksheep of her family (Kara Hayward) and Sam Shakusky, an orphaned oddball boy scout (Jared Gilman) with a sense of naive charm while still managing to finding welcome balance with moments of genuine emotional honesty and realism. Despite the cinematic the beauty, there are moments of palpable sadness and regret and legitimate disenchantment with the banal elements of existence. Suzy and Sam escape their respective worlds of alienation and dissatisfaction and set out on an orchestrated adventure equipped with a cat, a record player and some library books, each relics which facilitate the beginnings of their precocious bond. The fleeting nature of their escape is unimportant, for the two share moments of such deep understanding and connection, finding the kind of tenderness absent from the lives of the adult characters who each harbour their own respective turmoil and disfunctionality.
The adult characters in the film remain confusing to Suzy and Sam and seem to complicate everything. In a particularly poignant scene, Suzy explains to her mother simply, that she loves Sam and wants to be with him. What’s so wrong with that, she asks? Her mother (Frances McDormand) is unable to respond, which is a particularly telling moment in the narrative as it points to Anderson’s overarching concerns of growing up which span his entire body of work. With the absence of any role models, the audience is invited to understand the need for escape and entranced by the beauty of Anderson’s yellow and mustard toned world. Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) who despite an affair with Suzy’s mother exhibits a genuine empathy for the orphaned Sam and ends up saving him and Suzy from peril during the highly contrasting, climactic storm scene at the films closure, providing perhaps a sole moment of adult selflessness. The film is at it’s best when exploring the rift between adults and children, and ironically points out that in times of moral uncertainty or personal conflict, the young characters often respond in a far more logical fashion than their adult counterparts.
Anderson manages to find moments of charm in each one of the colliding worlds he constructs. His wonderfully satirical depiction of the Khaki boy Scouts is carried by the brilliant performances of both the boy scouts and Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton). Norton conveys an endearing seriousness which is taken on by the boys who are almost solider like in their drilled efficiency, but again, there is a lingering sense of genuine emotional connection between the scout leader and his boys which enables some of the most touching moments of boyish mateship in the film. There are moments of hyperbole but these balance out among the slow, unobtrusive camera work, poetically sharp dialogue and meticulously detailed mise en scene Anderson crafts. The scenes that take place at Suzy’s home convey an isolated, confined existence which contrasts beautifully with the impending scenes of endless beaches and yellow fields she and Sam escape to.
Managing to maintain high brow focus while finding a consistent sense of childlike joviality, Anderson’s film is a joy and is most enjoyable for audiences with a sense of imagination and who will allow Andersons imagery to wash over them as an all encompassing, visually gorgeous reminder that the power of gazing through the lens of a child can often remind us of some surprising truths.
Moonrise Kingdom is now showing in limited release in Arthouse cinemas across Melbourne.