Directed by Wes Anderson
Cast: Jared Gillman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Tillda Swinton
Music by Alexandre Desplat
It is no fun being a lonely soul out there. Unless, of course you are right in the middle of a Wes Anderson-world , in which case you are in for a whole different quirky realm of things. Sticking to his trademark style and tone, Anderson returns with a charmer in the form of Moonrise Kingdom, obviously paying no heed to his detractors. However, this time the auteur has indeed come up with a more accessible live feature film when compared to most of his works since Rushmore.
The film opens to an interesting tracking shot with no cuts that introduces us to the Bishop household reducing them to dolls in a playhouse of sorts. As we see these characters onscreen, we also hear in the background a record being played, which teaches young listeners on how to breakdown a symphony to its various individualistic elements.
Anderson’s symphony is created when the sleepy neighbourhood community of a fictional island wakes up in pursuit of young 12 year old Sam, who not only has run away from a Scout camp, but also taken his pen pal Suzy Bishop along with him. The twelve year olds run away search of their own kingdom, but the world they left behind is bent on tracking them down and to ensure that there is no ‘happily ever after’ to this young budding romance.
Breaking down the symphony, you realize that all the characters cut a lonely figure, each in their own search amidst their existence of solitude. Sam (Gilman) is an orphan boy and the least popular member of the scout team by a “significant margin’”. Even his foster parents seem to have abandoned him. Suzy Bishop (Hayward) on the other hand, is one longing to be away from the family that she already has. She is content to remain elusive and prefers the company of her fantasy books, the borrowed plastic record player and the binoculars through which she views her world.
It is just not the two young ones that we see having issues. In their world, the adults are the ones that really could use some help. For starters you have the estranged Mr. and Mrs. Bishop (Murray, McDormand) who are lawyers by profession but drifting apart as a couple. Mrs. Bishop is supposedly even having an affair with the reticent cop, Chief Sharp (Willis), the man with an aching heart. And to wrap it all up, we have the Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) who is still struggling to find his footing in life believing that managing Camp Ivanhoe is what he is destined for.
A search for the lovers on the run becomes an excuse for each to turn a better leaf. However that is not to be until the foretold storm hits the town.
The young talents Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, both first timers, put in a fantabulous effort in their debut outing. They emerge triumphant in holding their own in a cast that features some of the biggest heavyweights of the industry vying for screen space. No small feat that!
As for the rest, well, Bill Murray is Bill Murray as usual. Just his mere presence will do to lighten us up and bring on the smiles. The man who really surprises you though is Bruce Willis. Many did wonder how would Willis manage to fit into this Anderson world, and the restrained effort from the man really works. Edward Norton also gets to have a ball, channeling some of the Owen Wilson goofiness at times along with a lot of his own to bring us a nice mix. Frances McDormand also puts in a fine show while Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwarzman drops in for small cameos in this assortment.
The choice of colors and soft palettes has been one of the highlights of this project ever since the posters and teasers for the movie surfaced online. Anderson manages to sketch out a fable kingdom out of his visuals and sets and backs it up by giving the film a nostalgic flavour. Equally commendable is the writing of Anderson with Roman Coppolla, whereby they successfully manages to keep the film’s screenplay at the level of the younger lead protagonists without succumbing to the star powers of the rest of the bunch.
Andersonis very detailed with the sets, the angles and the lines. You can experience that in every frame. The writing brilliantly elevates some of the scenes like the one where McDormand’s character apologizes to her husband over a stormy night or the man to man talk shared by Willis and young Gilman over a drink.
Well, of course, the praises for this movie shall remain incomplete without mentioning the soundtrack. Leading the pack is the popular track ‘Le Temps de L’Amour’ from Francoise Hardy. There are some original compositions from composer Alexandre Desplat (The Kings Speech, The Tree of Life) along with a few classical compositions and even some Hank Williams thrown in for good effect. And this weird mix of genres does manage to make a lasting impression.
If you are already a fan of Wes Anderson, then you would enjoy this nostalgic tale of childhood innocence immensely. And if you aren’t, then there has been no better opportunity than this to jump onto the bandwagon and embrace his unique body and style of work. After all, Moonrise Kingdom is a short and sweet tale told with whole lot of art and equal doses of heart!
- Joxily John