Film: Moonrise Kingdom
Katrina Zaat says the kids are alright in Anderson's latest
by Katrina Zaat
Monday 4th June 2012, 19:03 BST
Wes Anderson is a one-man genre, and you’ll recognise all the ingredients in his latest outing, Moonrise Kingdom. The look is pastel nostalgia, the mood is broody, and the different generations can’t seem to get along. But fans looking for more of the same in Moonrise Kingdom will find that Anderson’s surpassed himself, making his most accomplished and enjoyable film to date.
The plot (not usually Anderson’s strength, but this one’s a corker) revolves around a pair of star-crossed twelve-year-old lovers. Suzy (Kara Hayward) and Sam (Jared Gilman) know that they’re made for each other. But when they run away into the forest, they call down the fury of Suzy’s parents, the local police, Social Services, and Sam’s bullying Eagle Scout troop.
This is the most thrilling departure from Anderson’s previous films – almost all of them feature adult-child clashes, but you rarely see the kids push back. In films like Tennenbaums and The Life Aquatic, overbearing patriarchs and chilly, inscrutable moms suck all the oxygen out of the room, preventing their adult children from asserting their own identities or desires.
Suzy and Sam, on the other hand, know exactly what they want, regardless of whether anyone will listen. “I can’t argue with anything you’ve said,” says Bruce Willis’ local cop to Sam, “But then, I don’t have to, because you’re twelve years old.” Maybe so, but Suzy and Sam have fierce determination and loyalty on their side, and they’re not to be underestimated.
The chemistry between the terrific young actors seems to give a jolt to every aspect of Anderson’s film-making. His scripting has never been so on-point, handling zingy repartee and heartfelt reveals with equal confidence. The score is a delight; the background visual gags are sharper than ever.
Even the trademark Anderson look becomes something transcendent here. After ninety minutes in this pastel 1960s world, the grouchiest nostalgia-phobe will be longing for knee socks, canvas tents and Francoise Hardy records. Design team Adam Stockhausen and Gerald Sullivan have created a coastal New England that perfectly balances the pastoral and the claustrophobic. There’s nowhere to run, really, which suggests that everyone’s going to have to compromise before this thing is over.
Anderson made his first short in 1994, so Moonrise Kingdom brings his film career up to the age of majority. That feels about right. With some adult characters who are actually willing to learn (well played all round by Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Bruce Willis and Ed Norton) and young protagonists with backbone, Moonrise announces a good young film-maker’s entry into artistic maturity.