Sam: So, what do you want to be when you grow up?
Suzy: I don’t know…I want go on adventures I think–not get stuck in one place. How about you?
Sam: Go on adventures too, not get stuck too.
There was a time when I wanted films to challenge me; to shake me out of my world into somewhere uncomfortable and new. As I’ve grown older (and life itself has proved more challenging) my movie-watching needs have changed. Now, it’s enough to be entertained; something that can often be accomplished with clever writing and good acting. Add a good soundtrack, skillful direction, artful cinematography and an interesting aesthetic — and I’m really in my happy place.
Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom consistently takes me to a happy place.
It’s a simple story of two young people who fall in love and run away together — except that they are both 12 years old and they are “running away” on a very small island.
Suzy and Sam meet when Sam is sent to a summer camp on the island of New Penzance. Both highly intelligent, sensitive misfits, they become pen-friends and over the course of a year hatch a plan to run away together.
The film is set in 1965, and shot in the flat, pastel tones of photos and movies from that era. This is not only stylistically beautiful, but acts as a kind of innocence-filter to a relationship between two children, which could easily — in a different context — be quite exploitative.
Suzy and Sam provide the central focus of the story, yet their calm, quiet relationship is the eye of a storm whipped up by the eccentric and dysfunctional adults around them.
While the children who played Suzy and Sam were both first-time actors, the adult cast was made up of established stars — many of whom are Wes Anderson’s regular collaborators. Frances McDormand and Bill Murray are great as Suzy’s brittle, lawyer parents, while Bruce Willis does a wonderful job channeling James Stewart as Penzance Island’s basically decent police captain. Both Harvey Keitel and Tilda Swinton have quite small roles; the former as a Boy Scout commander and the latter as the sinister and somewhat deranged “Social Services.”
The music of Benjamin Britten features extensively in the film’s soundtrack, particularly The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and Noye’s Flood, both of which were written specifically for children.
There is much that can be read into Moonrise Kingdom; themes of isolation and belonging, friendship, love, trust and adolescent sexuality. And if you find yourself thinking about these things long after the closing credits, that is great. But equally, if you simply feel happy and taken out of the everyday for 90 minutes, that’s absolutely fine too.
You can see the film’s trailer here:
Have you seen Moonrise Kingdom? What did you think? Are you as Wes Anderson fan, and if so, how does this film compare with others you’ve seen?
About Film Friday
Sarah at Art Expedition, and Darren, The Arty Plantsman have initiated this great new blogging project. You can find out more and see their chosen films for the week by visiting the latest post by Darren and Sarah.