After young first time lovers Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) flee their hometown together, a search party is dispatched to find them.
Wes Anderson is one of the best American filmmakers working today. All of his films are unique and intriguing in their own way and collectively showcase his remarkable talent for comedy and drama. Anderson is an auteur with a signature style all his own. Whether he’s working with writing partner Owen Wilson – Bottle Rocket (1996), Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) – Noah Baumbach – The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) – or Roman Coppolla – The Darjeeling Limited (2007), Moonrise Kingdom (2012) – his films always have a remarkable aesthetic, interesting characters, great music and moments of emotional depth and humor. Moonrise Kingdom further proves Anderson’s talents, showing that he can make a romantic comedy-drama that appeals to younger and older audiences alike.
The first thing that you notice about Moonrise Kingdom is its cinematic flair and artistic touch. Anderson’s style is quirky but always engrossing. His camerawork is inventive yet isn’t distracting. Like his quirky aesthetic, his characters are often zany but always have an emotional, human core. This is especially true of the characters in this film: they have some of the classic Wes Anderson quirks and tics yet are human and relatable. Anderson generally likes to use the same set of actors each time he makes a new film, but newcomers Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Francis McDormand and Tilda Swinton all fit in seamlessly with his signature style. Not to mention, the film’s two leads, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, work perfectly with the rest of the cast and seem at home in the world Anderson creates.
Among the many delights of the film is its 1960s period feel, infused with Andersonian touches and flourishes. While the film is a period piece unlike many of his past films, the world he creates is still familiar enough. Even more, the film’s naivety and charm make it more appealing to audiences than some of Anderson’s previous films. Following Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), this film appeals to a younger audience due to its plot, but also appeals to an older audience due to its intelligent subtext and thematic richness. With a stellar ensemble cast, a cool indie vibe, a smart script and some of Anderson’s most impressive directing yet, Moonrise Kingdom is one of the best independent films of the year.
If the film has one weakness, however, it’s the tonal shift that occurs in the final act. While the first two acts have an idiosyncratic touch, they are still grounded and believable. In the final act, the tone seems slightly more cartoonish and fantastical. The naiveté and emotional honesty of the first two acts give way to a sillier, more childish tone that culminates during a scene on a church steeple in violent hurricane winds and lightning flashes. Although part of the film’s charm is its eccentric moments, the tonal shift that occurs in the final act seems slightly out of place.
Some minor quibbles aside, Moonrise Kingdom is a film well worth seeing especially if you’re a fan of Anderson and his other work.
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