Moonrise Kingdom Review

Art demands many different things: originality, creativity, style, flair, beauty, intelligence and above all the power to entertain, enthral or captivate an audience. Most works of art find they can attain a few of these demands which is usually enough to satisfy most critics and enthusiasts. The fact the Wes Anderson can create pieces of art that encompass all of these factors is the reason he is so highly regarded among other filmmakers and critics and his deftly honed style appeals to a growing number of passionate fans. Though his work may never quite break into the mainstream his creative abilities ensure that it will never go unnoticed. He goes from strength to strength; his latest effort Moonrise Kingdom has proven how consistently Anderson can provide films of such a high calibre.

The script Anderson penned with Roman Coppola is at once highly original while drawing on simple themes such as first love and the struggles of teenagers coping with changes and family. This is not something new for Anderson who riffs on simple or classical themes of filmmaking and firmly plants his own stamp on them; young love has never looked like this. He guides newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward through an intriguing and often beguiling adventure, the two runaways find a connection that they eludes them in their respective families. Sam (Gilman) runs away from the Khaki Scouts of America to meet with Suzy (Hayward) with whom he has contacted via letter for a year. The two take to the countryside to evade the grasp of Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) and Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) but all is not as it seems as this journey is full of unlikely twists and whimsical caprice, there is an acumen present in Anderson scripts that is warmly welcomed amongst the mire of bland, by-the-numbers comedies.

Moonrise Kingdom follows in the Anderson mould of style and look, something that is very distinctive in his films. He manages to achieve a bizarre blend of Kubrickian stasis and cartoonish action, the camera doesn’t always keep right on the action but gets there at its own pace adding to the otherworldly feel throughout the film. It’s fitting that Suzy is fixated on novels of fantasy and adventure as her and Sam’s voyage is as fantastical as any of the novels she reads to him from. This amazing style is juxtaposed with the cool chic of 60’s music and clothing; there is something very apt about setting their quest for freedom in the decade of free love and experimentation. Anderson drops the viewer back into reality for quick check-ins with some stunning moments. After a hastily arranged and legally defunct marriage Sam and Suzy exit the small wooden wedding chapel in Peckinpahesque slow motion. Walking straight towards the camera with their group of ragtag Khaki scout friends Suzy brings Sam’s hand to her mouth to plant a kiss on it. This sublimely surreal moment reminds how absurd the situation is.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Anderson once again throws in an amazing bunch of actors to his dreamlike world, Tilda Swinton, Frances Mcdormand and Bill Murray complement those already mentioned, and adds some theatre from an amazing score by Alexandre Desplat. The summation is just another exceptional addition to Anderson’s oeuvre without achieving anything more, there is the feeling that Anderson has a masterpiece in him but this certainly isn’t it. The Royal Tenenbaums may still be his film to beat but with such a talent there is no doubt he will continue to produce at this high standard, another notch on the belt for Wes and his motley crew.


Thanks to the Cameo Picturehouse Edinburgh for press access 

About The Author

Jonathan went back to university to study Film Journalism in Glasgow in 2012 and hasn't looked back since. Writing for the Edinburgh Internation Film Festival, The Birmingham Review, The Electrolyte Magazine as well as Front Row Reviews he enjoys working across media and if not lambasting folk about politics it's film on his agenda. Working in The Electric Cinema in Birmingham has allowed him to come closer to the medium he loves, his favourite filmmaker is Wong Kar-Wai.

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