Running Time: 94 minutes
Cast: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Tilda Swinton
Director: Wes Anderson
Screenplay: Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Cinematography: Robert D. Yeoman
Wes Anderson’s films are a peculiar thing. They’re funny, yet sad; absurd, yet totally honest. This one is no different.
Set on an island in 1965 – although it could be anywhere at any time – the film centers around two pre-adolescent children, Sam and Suzy. Sam’s an orphan who is on the island at a Boy Scout camp, which he doesn’t particularly enjoy. Suzy summers there with her family every year. They met the previous summer and have been pen pals ever since, their missives full of romantic yearning and the desire to escape from under the adult thumbs oppressing them.
They run away and meet in a field. Sam, ever practical, lumbers along under all the camping gear they could possibly need. Suzy brings some books to read, her kitten and a portable record player. Despite the smallness of the island, they seem to think they can find somewhere to hide from the adults who are no doubt searching for them. They follow an old Indian trail to a cove they name Moonrise Kingdom.
While the youngsters set up camp, swim and share their first kisses, the adults and the rest of the Scouts, are tearing up the island looking for them. Suzy’s family call the police. Suzy’s mother has been involved in an affair with the chief, so there are some awkwardly charged moments as they interact. The Scouts are not all that fond of Sam and arm themselves to the teeth to pursue him.
Much of what ensues is absurd and often hilarious, but none of the actors play for laughs. In fact, it’s the deadpan nature of the performances that makes the film so funny. No one winks at the camera or takes their role anything less than seriously, even when things around them become utterly ridiculous.
I have to mention the production design too, because it is striking and beautiful, every color and shape chosen for its overall effect. The stylization works perfectly and makes every shot a sumptuous visual treat.
Beautiful, witty, quirky and very sweet, I can’t recommend this one more highly.