‘Moonrise Kingdom’ spins emotional, intimate story
Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2012 01:08
Directed by Wes Anderson and co-written by Anderson and Roman Coppola, "Moonrise Kingdom" follows the love story of two 12-year-old children in a small island town off the New England coast during the 1960s.
The film includes Anderson’s usual all-star casting, with parts played by Bruce Willis ("Die Hard," "The Sixth Sense"), Edward Norton ("Fight Club"), Jason Schwartzman ("Rushmore," "Darjeeling Limited"), Bill Murray ("Ghostbusters") and Frances McDormand ("Almost Famous," "Fargo").
During the summer of 1965, two lovestruck adolescents (played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) plot their escape from the mediocrity and oppression of their young middle-class lives.
Sam (Gilman) is attending a Boy Scout camp somewhat close to Suzy Bishop’s (Hayward) New England home, where she spends her days poring over fiction novels and dreaming of similar adventures.
After meeting at Suzy’s church’s play (in the girl’s dressing room, no less), the two begin to write to each other. Realizing the similar dissatisfaction of their situations, the children execute a plan to run away together into the woods.
Equipped with a suitcase full of her most precious novels and an advanced set of wilderness survival skills, the two children make it surprisingly far into their escape.
However, they each have a search party after them (Suzy’s parents and Sam’s Boy Scout troop, led by Norton), so their attempt at freedom is not an easy one.
Making "Moonrise Kingdom" all the more intriguing, the adults’ stories parallel the children’s, as they also struggle with issues of place and complacency.
Mrs. Bishop is in the midst of a guilt-ridden affair with Willis’ character, Captain Sharp, while Sam’s Scout Master (Norton) attempts to establish his position as a successful Scout Master among his peers.
If you’ve seen the preview for this film, you may have a small sense of what it’s about. Yet, I was very happy to find the preview didn’t reveal very much of the film’s content.
In fact, pretty much all the events I remember from the trailer transpired within the first 30 minutes of the film, leaving much to enjoy in watching the full 94-minute film.
Further adding to the film’s effectiveness, the cast is perfect. I cannot imagine any two actors who could have better portrayed the two lead characters. Both are fairly novice actors, and "Moonrise Kingdom" is their first major film.
Perhaps it is just Anderson’s excellent directorial abilities, but Gilman and Hayward are able to capture the beauty and innocence of adolescence unlike any character I’ve seen in years.
In a similar vein to most of Anderson’s films, this story is full of witty dialogue that draws attention to some of life’s biggest issues in a simplistic, but serious, way.
The two major characters – Sam, especially – perceive their world with a sophistication far beyond their years.
During one scene, while lamenting the death of a pet dog, Suzy’s character asks Sam if he was "a good dog," to which Sam simply answers, with all of the seriousness of a jaded adult, "Who’s to say?"
Simple, but incredibly poignant, the entire film follows this theme of the contrast between the adult perspective with which the children view their world and their unavoidable childlike appearance and naivety.
The film has already left most theaters, but it will be available on DVD, blu-ray and Video on Demand Oct. 16.