It’s a rare and beautiful feat for a film to capture the essence of first, innocent love in all its quirky grandeur; but for Moonrise Kingdom it’s effortless. Wes Anderson brings this delightful folly of first love to life in dripping in kitsch nostalgia and sepia hews.
On a New England island in 1965, an orphan Boy Scout Sam (Jared Gilman) escapes into the wilderness to rendezvous with Suzy (Kara Hayward) his pen pal love. This triggers an eclectic search party of Suzy’s family (Bill Murray and Francis McDormond), Sam’s fellow scouts and Scout masters (Edward Norton and Harvey Keitel) and the local Sherriff (Bruce Willis).
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppolla’s script allows the performers (and the audience) to luxuriate in this nostalgic living Polaroid collage of youth in this microcosmic wilderness. The two spheres of the film – Sam’s 50s James Dean-influenced fellow orphans and misfit fellow scouts and Suzy’s distracted parents, and detached community are vividly portrayed. There’s the perfect dynamic between the youthful perspective without trivialising their love and in admiring and mocking the institutions and customs of the quainter time.
The comedic performances are delivered with a terrific tenderness and sincerity from the typically powerhouse dramatic players. Edward Norton is pitch perfect as the sweet man-child Scout Master Ward. Bruce Willis’ Captain Sharp is caring, yet downtrodden local Sherriff whose characterisation infers a hard past filled with regret. The true triumph of the film is director Wes Anderson’s ability craft terrifically sincere and pure performances from the two debut leads in Gilman and Hayward.
Moonrise Kingdom is enchanting and warm like fond memories of your first love; but with a self-awareness that sees the hilarity in the eccentrics that abound.
[rating=4] and a half
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Written by: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppolla
Starring: Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Francis McDormand, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.
Moonrise Kingdom has been released in Australia, the U.S.A and U.K.