The well known thing about Marmite is that it comes in a jar whose label is predominately yellow and that you either love it or hate it. The same can be said about Wes Anderson films. In the upper echelons of Cinemart there is also a love and hate relationship with Wes Anderson. However, this reviewer is firmly on the love side of the fence when it comes to this particular auteur’s work.
Moonrise Kingdom is a story that has been told for centuries – a young adolescent boy falls in love with girl and they run away together. Sam (the superb Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) have both been labelled as ‘emotionally disturbed’ though their calm precocious demeanours makes for their labelled actions more misunderstandings in the case of Sam and somewhat true of Suzy. Using his multiple scouting skills Sam and Suzy rendezvous at an appointed time and place resulting in an island-wide search for the pair.
Moonrise Kingdom, set in 1965, is obviously a homage to Wes Anderson’s childhood and yellow-tinted memories of the time. The books, records and childhood freedom of the era are all given space and significance in a film that wants the audience to look at the details of each shot as it is knowingly posed and crafted for the viewer to admire and take in. ‘Quirky’ does not cover the world of this film but it is as close a description one can make to the absurdist wry and kind comedy that Anderson and his co-screenwriter Roman Coppola have created.
The costumes, by Kasi Walicka Maimone, are given their own close-ups with some sequences needing multiple costumes to create the elaborate biblical story staged as a play which becomes central to the narration of the story.
Anderson likes his established company of actors so it’s no surprise when Jason Schwartzman pops up as Cousin Ben. Having Harvey Keitel as Scout Commander Pierce is a real treat too, as well as putting a bald Bruce Willis in a wig designed to portray his balding character Captain Sharp. Another new edition to the Anderson fraternity is Edward Norton. Norton’s ability to portray vulnerable naivety works perfectly for a man who sees his main job as being a scout master under pressure with the resignation and disappearance of Sam from his scout troop.
Jared Gilman’s socially outcast Sam might elicit Lord of the Flies reactions in his scout troop but his hipster cool and remarkable scouting skills have just not yet found their rightful understanding home. Bill Murray’s appearance as Walt capitalises on the comic actor’s deadpan humour allied with Frances McDormand’s ability to give a determined edge to her exasperated lawyer/mother role.
Those who love Anderson’s films are truly going to adore this one and laugh along with glee to all of the films self-aware idiosyncrasies. Wes Anderson objectionists be forewarned as Moonrise Kingdom is directed and tailored to within an inch of its life and it is a thing of beauty as a result.
UK Release Date: 25th May