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Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom

Released 25 May 2012
Director Wes Anderson

Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward
Writer(s) Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola

Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson
Origin United States
Running Time 94 minutes
Genre Comedy, drama, romance
Rating 12A

The Kids Aren't Alright.

Before I get too complimentary, I want to make a point, I'm not a Wes Anderson fan, he irks me, there's something too twee, too self-conscious and ultimately too tedious about every one of his previous offerings. They're languorously paced exercises in film with a strived for sentiment that falls so short of the genuine that it really astounds. What's more there's a cult of doltish idolatry that has seeped into the cinematic mainstream so much so that I'm not only occasionally assaulted by works from Anderson's oeuvre but I'm also continuously greeted by a succession of carbon copies of his personally deplored output. I could almost hear J.D. Salinger roll aghast in his grave when Wes created a cloying homage to the Glass family in the Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou was nigh on unbearable for many reasons, and sensibly, despite some outcry from some friends, for an age I avoided The Darjeeling Limited solely on the merit of past bad experience.

Whimsical, pointless, empty movies, I thought, and I wasn't wrong.


In new venture Moonrise Kingdom, with a mise-en-scene reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting gone awry Anderson's cinematography gracefully veers through trademark obsessionally symmetrical set pieces in a manner both mature and elegant. In fact, the set pieces aren't only elegant but also willfully fantastic; there's a treetop cubby house perched atop a tall singular spruce, a New England manse the camera moves through as if it was a dollhouse, along with all the sensational scenery floods, fires, woods, creeks and coves can offer. Shot in time appropriate Super 16, it's sculpted world of 1965 Americana, where the real, fantastic, metatextual and hyperreal collide. Cinematic references fleet through the film in a way that's carefully interwoven and subtle if not visually understated, and in Anderson's hands Moonrise Kingdom becomes a welcome melange of everything from Bonnie and Clyde, Bugsy Malone, Grease, Lord of the Flies and Inglourious Basterds.

Set on the New England island of New Penzance, two outsider twelve year olds with emotional problems fall in love (Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward) and go on the lam from justice, school, scouts and their parents. Frances McDormand and Bill Murray play Walt and Laura Bishop, runaway Suzy's oblivious lawyer Mom and Pop, Bruce Willis plays island police chief Captain Sharp while Edward Norton takes the role of Scout Master Ward with Bob Balaban standing out as a nattily dressed narrator, perspicaciously warning us of the events that follow in the impending hours and days before a hurricane hits.

Capturing some of the fierce loyalty, anger, love, hatred and passion children share, and for all its twee trappings, in Moonrise Kingdom Anderson manages to lift out of a complacent cinematic lurgy and elevate his film into something that's almost quite special.

- Cormac O’Brien