Movie Review: Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Directed by: Wes Anderson
Written by: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Running Time: 94 min
Rated: PG-13

Starring:
Bill Murray as Walt Bishop
Frances McDormand as Laura Bishop
Bruce Willis as Captain Sharp
Edward Norton as Scout Master Randy Ward
Tilda Swinton as Social Services
Jared Gilman as Sam Shakusky
Kara Hayward as Suzy Bishop
Jason Schwartzman as Cousin Ben
In 1965, two 12 year olds decide to leave their lives behind and run away to a hidden inlet on the island of Penzance. Or so goes the plot for Wes Anderson's latest film, Moonrise Kingdom. The two kids, Sam and Suzy, meet when Sam sneaks backstage at a play and finds Suzy dressed as a raven. When she tells him that she cut her hand on a mirror when she lost her temper, you can see in Sam's eyes that he is smitten. The two are pen pals for a year and hatch a plan to run away together.

Sam is an orphan and is a member of the Khaki Scouts, a very serious group of campers that appear to be modeled on the military and, of course, the Boy Scouts of America. He and his troop are camping at Camp Ivanhoe when his scout master, Randy Ward, notices that  Sam has "flown the coop". An APB is put out on Sam, and the troop, along with the local police captain, begin a thorough search of the island.

Meanwhile, Suzy has also fled from  her home, carrying with her the necessities: a kitten, kitten food, a record player and her favorite record, a suitcase full of stolen library books, her lefty scissors, and her binoculars. She meets Sam in a meadow and follows him to an inlet where they set up camp. Both on the line between childhood and puberty, the two settle into life together. Sam impresses Suzy with his camping ability, and Suzy is compassionate when Sam reveals he sometimes wets the bed. After discovering Suzy's stash of letters from Sam, the search party steps up their efforts to find the two lovebirds.

I have always been a fan of Wes Anderson's films for their unique style. Each time I see one, I spend days afterward contemplating his approach. The camera pans from one room to the other in the houses as if you are looking into a dollhouse. The nature of living right next to other people and yet separate at the same time is clearly demonstrated with this technique. The settings looks like old fashioned paintings that have come to life with the characters. The colors are antiqued, almost sepia toned. The actors have their usual expressionless faces we have come to expect from Anderson's films, and yet so much emotion is being conveyed.

Once again, he has assembled a first class cast. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand played two attorneys who are married but just going through the motions. Bruce Willis is the local unmarried police captain having an affair with Frances McDormand's character. Edward Norton is sincere as the serious scout master. But the breakout performances of the film come from the actors playing Sam and Suzy, the star crossed lovers. I was mesmerized as I watched them fall in love for the first time in their young lives, as they carefully navigated the delicate balance between childhood and adulthood.

Another area in which I feel that Wes Anderson's excels is in his choice of music. After watching this film 4 times in a row (yes, I love it that much!), I downloaded the soundtrack. I'm not sure it holds up as a whole, but the parts are excellent. First there is the song that Sam and Suzy dance to on the beach, Francoise Hardy's Le Temp de L'Amour. I know it sounds silly but I love to put it on and act like I know what I'm saying when I try to sing along. Then there is the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. I put this on for my 6 year old and he loved it. It reminds me of how much I used to love listening to Peter and The Wolf when I was a kid. I love watching him as he discovers the nuances of each instrument and how they come together to make magic.

I highly recommend both the movie and the soundtrack. This is one movie I'm going to purchase to watch again and again. It's like a good book. In fact, I'm going to purchase all of Wes Anderson's movies and revisit them. Let me know what you think of the movie after you watch it. You can get it from my Amazon store on the right of this page or you can download it from iTunes here:Moonrise Kingdom

You can also get the soundtrack from my store or download it here:Moonrise Kingdom (Original Soundtrack) - Various Artists

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