I waited far longer than I wanted to see this film but sometimes, life stops in. I was happy, however, to step into the world of Wes Anderson, once again, in the ever-charming Moonrise Kingdom. While I am generally a fan of Anderson, the aesthetic he creates and his casting, Moonrise truly soared and in some cases, high above other films of the director.
Anderson’s casting is always astounding to me. He finds ways to surprise, not in the individuals he chooses but in the way in which he uses them. He has his favorites in Billy Murray, the Owens brothers, Jason Swartzman and such, but the even the favorites are used in a diverse and surprising fashion from film to film. Bill Murray never disappoints and the pairing between this actor and Frances MacDormand in a sad marriage, proves to be successfully touching and entertaining. Murray and MacDormand display a sense of vulnerability and melancholy that feels a touch more realistic than characters of a similar colors in some of his other films (Paltrow in Tennanbaums, for example). Obviously “style” is a dominant character in all aspects of Anderson’s films, including the acting, but I felt that Moonrise offered the traditional Anderson “style” paired with a moving sense of reality. I must admit, I was skeptical about Edward Norton and Bruce Willis, not regarding their talents but more in question of their ability to capture the Anderson way. As the film moved forward, there two actors displayed their ability to execute Anderson’s “style” and stole my heart along the journey. A few other new faces I was delighted to see included Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban and Harvey Keitel – all delivering wonderful performances.
Of course the film moves around the central figures of Sam and Susie, two young misfit lovers whose storyline remains at the heart of Moonrise Kingdom. The talents of young Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward could not have been more impressive or charming. These young actors painted the Anderson world in Moonrise Kingdom and defined what I believes puts this film above some of Anderson’s other works, heart. Every gesture and movement told a story, every word and glance – my only assumption is that these two actors were painted with Anderson’s magic paint brush.
While I’m not sure I could choose a favorite portion of the film after just one setting, especially because it was all so lovely, I was truly amazed by the opening sequence which features continuous shots at cutaway of young Susie’s home and daily live. Where the Tennanbaum opening was illustrated by clean cuts/shots, Moonrise opens with a symphonic movement of camera work that plays itself out like a fine dance. The difficulty of this kind of execution is undeniable, that Anderson pulls it off with such finesse and flair, is that much more impressive.
Naturally, I would recommend this film to anyone but I am completely biased to Anderson and I understand it is not for everyone. However, I believe that Moonrise could appeal even to the Anderson skeptic because it truly possesses charming, hopeful and intoxicating heart. It is a love story before it is anything else and a beautifully mastered one.
Before the film began, I was sitting in the theatre and my husband took an urgent call from his mother. I assumed it was something along the lines of, “we are locked out of the house…, ” “can you pick of _____ from the store,” etc. However, I was surprised when he returned, sat down, turned to me and calmly spoke thus:
“Papa is in the hospital. He has been bitten by a snake.”
“Papa” is all well and enjoying the comforts of the hospital bed with hope of returning home soon…but after contemplating this rather Anderson-esque moment, I came to realize that often, our lives and mirror the art we adore.