Thursday, 13 March 2014
Title: Moonrise Kingdom
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swindon, Jason Schwartzman, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel
Plot: Sam (Gilman) and Suzy (Hayward) after a chance meeting become pen pals before plotting to run away together to the secluded cove from which the film takes its name from, all the while attempting to elude the search / rescue / capture party which has been launched to find them by Suzy’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) and Sam’s Khaki Scout troop.
Review: I am truly of the belief that a great film is a lot like a great mix tape in that you enjoy the journey so much that you instantly want to watch it again as soon as it ends. This it is safe to say is once again the case with Wes Anderson’s latest film, who here again teams up with Roman Coppola (son of Francis Ford, brother of Sofia and cousin of Nicolas Cage) to bring us his tale of star crossed lovers Sam and Suzy
After the shall we say interesting (read: essentially rewritten) take on the classic children’s book “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, a film which was greeted with decidedly mixed opinion, especially by those familiar with Roald Dahl’s original but not Anderson’s quirky film making style let alone willing to accept his reworked version of such a cherished story. Now back on more familiar ground Anderson’s latest film feels is in many ways his most accessible film since “Rushmore”, a film which finally helped myself to finally get what the fuss about Anderson’s work was about. Still while perhaps more accessible than some of this other films like “The Royal Tenenbaums” or “The Darjeeling Limited”, this latest film still bares all of his usual quirky trademarks such as his continual use of title cards, primary colours (this time fresh grass greens and Khaki browns) aswell as a new group of colorful characters to add to his ever expanding universe.
Interestingly this film also features fewer members of his usual acting troupe whom have followed him from film to film, something especially noticeable this time around with the absence of Owen Wilson, who Anderson has been keen to note was not due to any kind of personal dispute when carrying out the promotion for the film. Still both Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman are on hand to ensure that the familiarity is maintained, while like so many of the adult cast taking more of a backseat to the younger cast, while Bruce Willis and Edward Norton are clearly relishing the freedom that comes working on an indie film, let alone getting to play slightly different characters than we are used to seeing them play, with Norton once more on amazing form as the bumbling Khaki Scout leader Randy. However it is the surprise sudden appearance by Harvey Keitel as the blustering head of the Khaki scouts while Tilda Swindon, appearing here as the appropriately titled Social Services, sadly despite giving another wonderful performance never makes the same impact of some of the other characters, let alone presenting the kind of threat expected from her character.
The real breakout performances here though are given by the two young leads, both making their debuts here, though you honestly would not believe it considering the amount of confidence, let alone believability they bring to their individual roles, processing real onscreen chemistry despite their two characters being seemingly so mismatched with Sam being a quiet and seemingly emotionally detached watercolours enthusiast, while Suzy’s loves resolve around her binoculars, stolen library books and kitten. Still like Sam she is equally detached from her parents and ultimately the perfect couple for Anderson and his enduring love for misfits. True their dialogue might not often be overly realistic, as is the case for so many of the child characters here, with Sam and Suzy often coming off as being brutally frank with their dialogue, while Anderson sacrifices realism in favour of individualism as especially the case with the Khaki scouts, which considering how amusing their conversations with each other are, such as deciding if they should arm themselves when hunt down Sam after he escapes from camp to meet up with Suzy and due to this I found it hard to fault Anderson’s decision here.
Once again Anderson brings us usual creative and visual flair to the film, with long time collaborator Robert D. Yeoman once again providing some truly stunning cinematography, which contains all of Anderson’s usual trademark symbolism and iconography and visual gags, while even managing to top the cutaway ship from “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” as he here gives us a cutaway tour of Suzy’s house which despite being a gimmick he’s used before is none the less effective here and only adds to the already playful camerawork which plays so prominently throughout with the frequent use of single shot sequences and long pans really immersing the viewer into the quirky world which Anderson has once more crafted here.
Sadly were the film fails is with it’s rushed final act, which has the feeling that Anderson had no real idea how to end the film and may go in some way to explaining the lack of develop that Swindon’s Social services, especially when the film seemingly wraps up things suddenly after such a minor chase sequence, that it almost feels like an afterthought. Luckily the journey to this point is so enjoyable that it almost covers for such a carless if ultimately predictable ending.
While perhaps not everyone’s tastes, this is Anderson once more at his most accessible, while the established fan base and indie cinema fans will no doubt lap this up, while the initiated may still struggle to see what the fuss is about.
For more Wes Anderson related writing this month make sure you show some love to the nice folks over at "French Toast Sunday" aswell as for other fun film related writings.