"Typical of Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom has a definite charm to it, endearing in moments..."
Wes Anderson has become somewhat renowned for his offbeat, unconventional cinematic style - a style that has certainly divided opinions on the American's work, and his latest feature Moonrise Kingdom is no different to usual, in a quirky comedy which opened this years Cannes film festival.
Set on a small New England island in the 1960s, a pair of young lovers decide to run away from home together, hoping to camp out in the wilderness as they wish to escape from the cruel reality in which they both feel like victims. Suzy (Kara Hayward) feels victimised by her parents Walt (Billy Murray) and Laura (Frances McDormand) and having met orphan Sam (Jared Gilman), and having communicated through letters for a short period of time, the pair decide to flee - the latter escaping from scout camp, right under the nose of Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton).
The youngsters’ escape sparks panic in the neighbourhood, and the local (and lone) policeman Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) heads a search party to find the two children. Yet as families and friends continue to stress over their whereabouts, the pair start falling in love and it soon transpires that this rare excitement for the locals may just prove to be one of the best things that could have happened to all involved.
Typical of Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom has a definite charm to it, endearing in moments. The Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums director has once again created a surreal world, almost as though it has come straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. However, as always, Anderson's work comes with a kookiness that all feels somewhat contrived.
Despite an attempt to embrace the quirky nature of Moonrise Kingdom, it is definitely quite annoying in parts. It just comes across as being too clever, particularly in Anderson's continuous use of the panning shot as the manufactured unconventionality wears thin. Anderson is going for a very definite style and there is certainly no denying he pulls it off - and I for one am just pleased the film is set in the 1960s, thereby avoiding all potential showy-off Sonic Youth references that we so often have to put up with in similar films.
Where the picture shines, however, is within its all-star cast. The on-screen ensemble speaks for itself really, as at points you're watching a scene and you realise that within it are Murray, Norton, Willis, McDormand and Tilda Swinton. Not to mention cameos from Harvey Keitel and the scene-stealing Jason Schwartzman.
However, despite all of this, the most impressive performances come from both Hayward and Gilman, in their debut feature films. Their roles require both bravery and independence and it takes mature actors to pull this off, which they do superbly, also displaying a real sense of sincerity too. The best of the more experienced members of the cast has to be Norton. His feeble and heart-warming character seems a million miles away from American History X, really portraying just how versatile an actor he can be.
Moonrise Kingdom is an easy to enjoy feature, not asking too much of its audience but carrying a charm and wit about it which makes for a gratifying experience for the viewer. And whilst Anderson continues to divide opinions where you either love him or hate him; I remain an exception to that rule, simply thinking he's just okay, though if you are a fan of his work you're bound to love this production. If you aren't a fan however, avoid at all costs.