If you’ve seen “Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou,” or “The Darjeeling Limited,” you know that director Wes Anderson has a style in and of his own. If his style, particularly in “Moonrise Kingdom,” could be described by one word, I would use “whimsical.”
Anderson’s quirks and rather atypical sense of humor shine in “Moonrise Kingdom” with its unusual story line, odd characters and young romance.
Set on a small island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965, “Moonrise Kingdom” tells the story of a budding romance between Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), both of whom have been described on some level as “emotionally disturbed.”
Sam is an orphan having problems in his foster home and Suzy’s parents believe her to be troubled and unstable. After a year of pen-pal romance, they decide the solution to the problems – run away together.
Using his skills as a Khaki Scout, Sam boldly leads the two into the wilderness of the small, one-cop-car island.
Because they left during the night, the two young lovers/runaways get a little less than a day’s head-start before Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) discovers Sam has “resigned” from the Khaki Scouts. The local police captain (Bruce Willis) immediately launches a search party, which grows when Suzy’s parents find she is also missing.
Summer romance, dying romance, secrets brought to light, the worst storm in the island’s history, heroism and friendship – the story “Moonrise Kingdom” tells is fresh and unexpected, which makes for a short 93-minute movie.
There are some award-winning/nominated actors that appear in “Moonrise Kingdom,” but they only support the story line – they don’t steal the show – giving the limelight to the children.
Other well-known actors in the film in addition to Norton and Willis are Bill Murray as Suzy’s dad, Frances McDormand as Suzy’s mom and Tilda Swinton as “Social Services.”
And the young actors Gilman and Hayward take advantage of this spotlight, capturing all of their characters’ eccentricities and making their romance a cutesy affair (except for one sexually-charged scene that could be offensive to some viewers).
Apart from the interesting story, visually “Moonrise Kingdom” is stunning. Working with Robert D. Yeoman, Anderson used the setting and cinematography comically, incorporating symbolism and visual witticisms.
Even if this film was created during the silent film era with no clever dialogue, and then take away its soundtrack (which includes everything from orchestrated classics to 1960s French pop) – you’d still be left with a film that makes you laugh purely because of the acting and cinematography.
“Moonrise Kingdom” is being shown at Lakeland Cinema in Woodruff, and is rated PG-13 for sexual content and smoking.
Sarah Hirsch may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.