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In a small island town, off the coast of New England 1965 will be a memorable time for Suzy and Sam. Having met the year before, their relationship had grown via their pen pal correspondence, to the point where they both decide to run away from their respective homes. Both twelve year olds bring something along for the escape. Sam brings his woodsman’s skills, learned as a Kaki scout, plus provisions and equipment, Suzy brings a bag full of books, a cat and a battery operated record player. The town is mobilised to find the children, but this act opens up deep flaws in various relationships which had hitherto remained hidden...
Moonrise Kingdom (2012 - 1 hr, 29 min, 56 sec) is a piece of romantic whimsy from director Wes Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox). The screenplay was co-written with Roman Coppola (The Darjeeling Limited). The film was critically well received and was nominated for a variety of awards, including the Palme d'Or.
The film has an impressive cast list, although both Jared Gilman (Sam) and Kara Hayward (Suzy), they both hold their own when in the august presence of Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel and Bob Balaban.
Being a film by Anderson there are a few things which are a given, the movie will have a quirky script which pushes at the edge of incredulity, but never breaks through; the visual style will be beautifully symmetrical, with every shot meticulously planned; and the whole thing will be set in a place where hyper reality rules. His peculiar way of telling a story, and his distinctive visual style, often polarises audience and I lay my cards on the table here, being a massive fan of his movies. He reminds me very much of Terry Gilliam, in that even if you only saw a few frames of the film, you would instantly know whose directorial hands you were in.
Moonrise Kingdom captures that golden moment between innate innocence and emerging maturity, which is the death of innocence. Both Sam and Suzy feel like outsiders in their own homes, Sam because he is fostered and Suzy because she has not only serious anger issues, but her parents Laura (McDormand) and Walt Bishop (Murray) are themselves removed from their own family life. Laura, because she is obsessed with her work, shouting at the children via a megaphone and her concern that Walt may discover her affair with the local sheriff, Captain Sharp (Willis). Walt’s hangdog visage is that of a man who has already given up on his life and personal dreams.
Together with Scout Master Ward (Norton) the world's most ineffectual troop leader, the three set off to find the children, only to find some truth about themselves along the way. If the children's escape to freedom wasn’t enough, the island is only days away from its worst ever hurricane.
Each of the characters are given an exaggerated set of personal idiosyncrasies, which is where much of the film's comedy arises from, though Anderson does like his set pieces and the film slides effortlessly between these two extremes.
The DVD is presented with an anamorphic aspect ratio of 1.85:1 which brings out the most of the 16 mm film stock. Apart from chapter selection and English subtitles the disc holds no extras. The PR sheet does refer to a set tour with Bill Murray, but this wasn’t forthcoming on the review disc.
This was a wonderful film which had me laughing and crying. It's a funny bittersweet gem of a movie, shame about the lack of extras.