Like most who watch director Wes Anderson’s finely tuned onscreen imaginings, the audience for Tuesday night’s Moonrise Kingdom was fixated on a world of whimsy, hope and desperation. The fact the two main characters were aged 12, and grown men were literally misty-eyed over the star-crossed love story between two preteens was a testament to Moonrise’s dedication to its beauty and fragility.
Orphan Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) and slightly-disturbed-but-not-quite-there-yet Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) eschew their complex lives and travel across the fictional island of New Penzance in a desperate fit of wanderlust; Sam fleeing from the Khaki Scouts and Scout Leader Ward (Edward Norton), Suzy leaving behind her three young brothers and parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray). And just when the initial excitement of their rebellious streak wanes, the most unlikely of love stories begins.
Shot mostly outdoors and on location on Rhode Island, Wes Anderson imbued enough childlike grandeur into each outdoor scene to make the thought of CGI or over the top sets completely superfluous. Each character was as animated as the last; the forests and beaches were lush and picturesque, while the lighthouses and boats had a rickety Disney-like feel to them. This was black comedy meets teenage dream at its best.
Bruce Willis’ small but worthwhile role as police captain Sharp, alongside Tilda Swinton’s oddly stylish (well, for a circa-1965 social worker) cameo and a enjoyably neurotic Jason Schwartzman as a fellow scout leader complimented Moonrise in the best way possible, but not even the inclusion of these older and slightly serious characters could sour the running theme of young love sprinkled across the film’s 90-plus minutes.
Beautifully scored by Alexandre Desplat, it’s rare a film can conjure up memories of falling in love for the first time or that chased first kiss. Moonrise Kingdom chronicled the exuberance of youth in ways I didn’t think possible. Go to cinema and feel young again.
4 and half stars.
Watch if you liked: Juno
Moonrise Kingdom is in select cinemas now.