Published May 31, 2012The trouble with being young and in love is that no one else can properly appreciate that intensity and, naturally, the singular urge develops to only want to be with each other. This ephemeral feeling is captured with a trademark blend of deadpan humour and storybook charm in Wes Anderson's latest, Moonrise Kingdom.
It's a typical triumph of meticulous design for Anderson (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums), as here he's crafted yet another unique world with its own cast of colourful characters and understated emotional resonance lurking beneath the beautifully symmetrical surface.
Sam (Jared Gilman) is an orphan Khaki Scout who surreptitiously escapes one night thinking he will not be missed. Scoutmaster Ward (a delightfully dedicated and upbeat Edward Norton) contacts the authorities, which on the small New England island consists almost exclusively of the sullen Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis).
Sam unites with Suzy (Kara Hayward), which launches a flashback to their fated first meeting and subsequent twee courtship by correspondence that culminates in their plan to escape together. Suzy's parents, brilliantly portrayed by Frances McDormand and Bill Murray, are both lawyers in the midst of falling out of amour and Captain Sharp enters the picture at the right time to ignite a half-hearted love triangle.
When Sam and Suzy eventually make camp on an idyllic beach and share a sandy first kiss, the film begins to blossom, allowing their affections to unfold with disarming tenderness and a sweet sense of nostalgia. Even after they're discovered, and Sam faces the cruel prospect of "juvenile refuge," they launch a whimsical escape plan, aided by Cousin Ben (Jason Schwartzman, in hilarious form) as a large storm ominously prepares to descend.
As always, a plot description only describes so much of the brilliance of Anderson's work. Like first loves, his films are never so much about the specifics as they are about feeling. While some lament the fact that he continues to work within the same rigid style, he keeps churning out sublimely tragicomic tales of fractured families and tormented youth.
What we are now all-too-eager to dismiss as redundant we once would have commended as visionary. (eOne)