Moonrise Kingdom, a 2012 film directed by Wes Anderson, stars Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, and Bill Murray. It takes place in the summer of 1965 on the fictional, remote New England island of New Penzance. Two socially unaccepted 12-year-olds–Sam (Jared Gilman), a weird orphaned Khaki Scout (the hilarious substitute for the boy scouts) and Suzy (Kara Hayward, who was actually born and raised in Andover), an aggressive misunderstood social outcast–meet, fall in love, and run away into the wilderness together in order to escape their restrictive environments (his camp and her family). The runaways spur an island wide manhunt lead by island police captain Sharp (Willis), mild mannered troop leader scoutmaster Ward (Norton), Suzy’s parents (Murray and Frances Mcdormand), who are undergoing severe marital problems, and a bunch of Sam’s fellow Khaki scouts, who are out to ruin his life. This search keeps escalating, throwing the island community into chaos as an actual large storm descends on the island and the young lovers must keep finding ways to elude their respective social circles and Social Services (played by Tilda Swinton, who seeks to take Sam to an orphanage) in order to avoid their love from being torn apart.
This film is one of my favorite movies of all time for many reasons, the first and foremost being the characters. Each and every one of the characters is memorable and lovable. They each have their quirks (like every character in every Wes Anderson movie does), which make them very likeable and realistic. The love story between Sam and Suzy feels like it could happen in real life, despite it being very fast and awkward, because the performances by the children are fantastic. In fact every performance is great, making every character feel like they really exist. The relationships between characters excel (Suzy and her mother, the mom and dad, Sam and scoutmaster Ward, Sam and Captain Sharp) The picture is very well written and is extremely funny with many sight gags and a couple little chuckle-worthy jokes hiding in the background.
Arguably the best aspect of the picture is the cinematography. The cinematography of this film is so perfect and artistic that you could take any frame of this film, cut it out, and frame it on a wall in a gallery and it would be the main attraction. There are many long drawn-out and creative shots with beautiful sets making the film complete eye candy. The colors used in this movie, a lot of greens, yellows, and browns, give the film a very natural rustic feel. In addition, Benjamin Britten’s soundtrack is perfect. The use of a children’s choir and many funny sounding rustic instruments make this film fun to listen to. Honestly, if you watched this movie with a blindfold or with ear plugs, you would still have a good time–that is how good the art and sound design is. There are also many small details in this movie that are there for you to appreciate and laugh at. For example, throughout the film Suzy is reading all these young adult fantasy novels with colored pencil covers and she reads small out-of-context excerpts from these books. These moments, although small and insignificant, spark the imagination and are a joy to sit through. In the end, Moonrise Kingdom has fantastic characters with emotional weight and is a beautiful movie both visually and sound-wise. It is amazingly written and is a overwhelmingly funny movie. It is as close to perfect as a film can get in my opinion and I give it an A+.
I should mention that one of the main reasons I love this film so much is because I spend every summer on my remote beach house on Martha’s Vineyard, so seeing the film’s island natural setting just opens a geyser of emotion and nostalgia inside me which adds greatly to my experience of the film.
By Sam Finbury
PG 13, Wes Anderson, Screenplay by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, 1 hr 34 min, Focus Features, May 25 2012