This week I’m reviewing a recent film that received rave reviews: “Moonrise Kingdom,” directed by Wes Anderson, cowritten by Anderson and Roman Coppola. If you haven’t watched the film yet, be aware of minor spoilers ahead.
“Moonrise Kingdom” is a charming and disarming story told in a classically quirky Anderson style. The characters are nuanced and have a droll flair to them that makes much of their dialogue hilarious in a dry sort of way.
Sam, one of the two main protagonists, presents a rather unconventional character. In any other movie, the dialogue would have seemed stilted and inappropriately mature for the character. However, Anderson (and Coppola) develop Sam in such a way that the stranger lines seem humorously and purposefully out of place (it also, along with its levity, has a touching seriousness and intimacy to it). Sam comes across as a loner and an outsider with some eccentric yet endearing tendencies. So these lines fit right in with his mannerisms.
Anderson doesn’t just tackle the slightly odd, however. He also takes on the more serious characterizations with a deft hand. When I first heard that Suzy is thought of by her parents as “troubled,” I for one didn’t believe them, of course siding with one of the main protagonists. I thought the parents just couldn’t understand her. She wasn’t truly mentally or emotionally unstable. However, slowly Suzy is revealed to have some more disturbing tendencies. She writes to Sam about outbursts she has, she stabs Redford with her scissors, she threatens her father in a deeply menacing way and she seems rather unfazed and detached about the fact that she may never see her family again when escaping with the Khaki scouts. Eventually we grow to understand that perhaps the adults actually knew what they were talking about in this movie, rather than the children’s magical and imaginative natures just being misunderstood, as is often the case in films. In this, we find a sad and poignant drop of realism in what is otherwise a curiously fantastical film.
However, Anderson and Coppola keep this aspect of her characterization from being too sobering, making sure Suzy has enough redeeming qualities to make her into an empathetic character. She saves a worm from being killed, showing the value she places on life, she almost can’t accept when a dog she doesn’t know is dead and she is obviously deeply committed to Sam. The two make a winning couple, with awkward but profoundly intimate interactions that tug at the heartstrings.
The other characters served well as sympathetic sidepieces. I kept finding myself feeling sorry for the well-meaning Scout Master Ward, and laughing at the self-effacing Captain Sharp. The two play off each other nicely as empathetic characters who fit perfectly in the distinctly quaint setting of the island on which the movie takes place.
Overall, the movie is a well-paced slice of life that successfully portrays the plight of its two young lovers and the profound effect they have on the people around them. If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson, or at the very least enjoyed one of his movies, I’d highly recommend giving this one a go, it would be worth your time.