Wes Anderson’s new film features a lot of his usual cast members and crew as well as his distinct directorial style. So whether or not you like this film will come down, in large part, as to how you feel about his previous films.
Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of two children who are both outcasts and who come together on a small island in New England. Jared Gilman plays Sam Shakusky, a boy scout orphan who is disliked by the rest of his fellow scouts. He runs away with Suzy Bishop, played by Kara Hayward, the troubled daughter of a couple who live on the island. Sam and Suzy become friends and have a childhood romance together. The film reminded me of My Girl, only My Girl seen through the eyes of Anderson.
The child actors are well cast and really rather funny. Their love story, while silly, is quite touching due to the fact that both characters have been rejected by everyone they know. Overall, the story is a little too cute for my liking but Anderson gets away with it through his use of great dialogue, gorgeous cinematography and a fantastic cast.
While the children are the centre of the film, where it really shines are the scenes featuring the adult characters. Bill Murray and Francis McDormand play the parents of troubled Suzy and they work together brilliantly. Murray plays yet another depressed older man, and McDormand is a stressed mother, much as she was in Almost Famous. The two of them make a great pair. Edward Norton plays the head of the Scouting party on the island, and is the best he has been in a long time and so is Bruce Willis as the solo sombre policeman.
Kingdom looks and sounds beautiful, with Anderson’s usual cinematographer, Robert Yeoman, doing yet another brilliant job, supported by a lively and energetic score.
One could argue that Moonrise Kingdom is just too cute, and certainly in anyone else’s hands this could have been nauseating, but in Anderson’s you have a lovely film; witty and surprisingly touching.