Moonrise Kingdom Reviews
My personal favourite Wes Anderson movie, Moonrise Kingdom has fantastic directing, with the camera seamlessly gliding through the films terrific set pieces, and the script is also excellent, with great pacing and a perfect balance of emotion and comedy.
Anderson-verse is a shared universe, a world of connectivity where people and things that seem sparse are more connected than they appear. Just as so, they are divided. This is an honest reflection of anyone's mind, and an artist who is given the freedom and reign to find that will almost certainly present satisfying results. I wouldn't have expected at first that Captain Sharp and Mrs. Bishop knew anything of each other, but to realize they're in an affair gives this world some juice. Each artist is the god over their domain, and in Moonrise KINGDOM, Anderson takes some inspiration from the Holy Bible. Unlike so many modern filmmakers who use this as a source of political upheaval, spewing hatred and paranoia at the church, Anderson makes no such criticism. He rather acknowledges it as a story that can reflect his own imagination, and godliness as an artist. There's at least Noah's Ark and a subsequent sacrifice made by the local sheriff, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), to save two children atop a church during the 'flood.'
Anderson films have such sweet tenderness to them, some personal touch and situations that draw out my inner-child. It may make some uncomfortable, but I like stories of young romance, as long as they don't become graphic. It speaks to the heart of adventure, this film's certain genre.
Worlds within worlds, a microcosm that easily shares a macro - it says something about a family when they hang a painting of their home in their home. They're trying to be a family and put some emphasis on that. Anderson's opening shot shows us the exterior in a dreamy painting, then maps out the upstairs floor, and ultimately pulls out of our main female protagonist's (Suzy) window to reveal an equally dreamy shot of the home itself in rain, surrealist quality, almost looks like a toy.
Anderson will stage things very obvious, literal, as you'd see in a play. I think the closest any director comes to squaring off the frame and putting it's viewer into a theater box is this auteur. Just in the opening credits, in the upstairs of the house, he frames Bill Murray and Frances McDormand, a married couple called the Bishops, on two separate points of the z-axis, implying a distance between them which foreshadows greater revelations - Murray is furthest, most in the dark about anything, especially McDormand's affair. But the camera pulls back to the foreground where Suzy continues looking out the window through her binoculars - she has her own mission, she'll be a missing child soon. But her parents' neglect, largely stemming from their marital dissonance, contributes to their ignorance of what's going on in her life. That's a lot to say in one shot; that's genius. Only wish it were in 3D to make those layers come to fruition. This whole opening is a visual/auditory essay that I could write about forever. All along he's dropping these hints about separation, distance. Multiple times in this montage, Murray and McDormand are clearly seen in separate rooms doing separate activities, divided by walls. In the aforementioned shot, Murray sits down to read with some wine at a table divided, which he collides so he can rest his elbows down - as the camera pulls back, McDormand notices him from the other room, refrains from going in and opts to smoke her cigarette at the doorway. And what do we hear all along? An orchestra broken into parts, narrated by a kid who talks about the separate parts which make musical harmony - an omen to this family's mission.
I happen to be amidst a production of Our Town and noticed Bob Balaban's Narrator is directly out of Thorton Wilder's pages, giving us a history and geography lesson of the fictitious setting, telling us about the delivery man and town/island functions, and informing us of act three's fateful storm. Unlike Wilder's Stage Manager, he doesn't take over the story, and remains SEPARATE rather than interactive. That he's a scientist combines him with Wilder's Professor Willard, whose lines Stage Manager could've done anyway.
Themes of separation continue throughout, as if each frame is intended to be this microcosm of that larger idea. Tents separated by a gap in the middle, a zipper opening straight down the middle separating either side of tent, distant radio communication between Sharp and Scout Master Ward (Ed Norton), cut to telecommunication in a priceless scene where Sharp tries to tell Sam's foster parents that their kid is missing - SPLITSCREEN and the foster dad informs he doesn't want Sam back.
If you haven't seen this movie, you're in for a treat. It is shot in 16 millimeter, and it does resemble 1964 ish in some measure, especially Edward Norton's haircut, the young boy's frayed undershirt, the way the director let the good cut roll of the young actor, not the one Willis plays, which, coming from the theatre, not film, I don't understand the whole problem there. I just see that it's real hard to do.
So, sometimes, the younger actors are having a moment, but the older one stumbles on his words, but the director said, That's my take, so it must be hard to get even half of what you're working at, is all I know. In other words, it's funny to see Bruce Willis take a back seat to a 12 year old protagonist, and maybe, dare I say it, barely able to keep up, shall we say, to that 12 year old's acting level? Well, that's how I'm
Sam (Jared Gilman) is an unpopular boy scout absconds from the camp run by strict and kind Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton). A search party involving Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) is dispatched. At the same time they hear that a sad and depressed young girl Suzy (Kara Hayward) goes missing from a nearby town. Soon they realize that they both conspired to escape. Rest is how they spend time, get close and explore each other and what happens when the adults catchup with them.
The focus is on the new leads who give a superbly apt performance in the backdrop of lush vistas, creative and unconventional photography and artwork, melodious and blending soundtrack packed with some of the heaviest weights of Hollywood in Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton and Tilda Swinton. The opening scene photography and background score introducing the Bishops sets the tone for the oncoming brilliance. Wes Anderson deftly balances the innocence and maturity of the leads especially resonating in a delicate scene which could have easily become vulgar turns out to be warm and comic. The remaining big stars are given enough space to develop their characters written carefully not to overlap each other and they do give their money's worth.
A superbly supported Wes Anderson show