By Jessica Delfanti | May 25, 2012
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman
To many, it will be no surprise that Wes Anderson’s new film, Moonrise Kingdom, is a delight from beginning to end credits. The director, famous for delivering works of sharp and random wit, unconventional relationships and reactions, and impeccable style, brings his winning formula back for another round in a darkly sweet romance.
It is the stormy summer of 1965. On a small island off the coast on New England, khaki scout Sam (Jared Gilman) and Sunday shoe-wearing Suzy (Kara Hayward) go missing. They are on a mission, an adventure, and are in love. Meanwhile, various factions of the town mobilize to search for the runaways. There are Suzy’s irate parents, Laura and Walt Bishop, played by Frances McDormand and the subtly winning Bill Murray. There is the sympathetic Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) and the enthusiastic if bumbling Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton). And there is the tastefully villainous “Social Services” (the playfully severe Tilda Swinton) that seeks to whisk Sam off to electric shock treatment.
Anderson has a talent for choosing actors that can readily maintain his specific humor, and Moonrise Kingdom’s cast is no exception: veterans like Murray and Jason Schwartzman deliver their lines with blase humor, while newcomers Gilman and Hayward’s lines are fresh, intense, and full of the weighty dramatism that only children can get away with.
While Anderson’s flair, ramped up significantly from earlier works like The Royal Tenenbaums, can give the impression of all style, no substance, the narrative progresses far enough into Suzy and Sam’s fairytale romance that the slight distractions are negligible. Where Anderson’s directorial touches in shots, soundtrack, and costume are all undeniably hip, it is his writing here that truly shines. Anderson and co-writer Roman Coppola supply a script that is packed to the brim with cheeky quips and naive pronouncements of absolutes. Buoyed by the talented cast, the script is a time capsule to remind us of our own childhood fantasies, and recognize the truths that all children know and seem to forget at the cusp of adulthood.
It is this impression that we are left with as the credits roll. In the delicate, tasteful Moonrise Kingdom, the liminal space that exists between childhood and adulthood is highlighted in such a nostalgic way that it is impossible not to yearn for the simplicity of youthful emotion and speech. Now–who wants to play cops and robbers?