SFF Film Review : Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

The State Theatre was again buzzing with festival-goers on Friday night for the Australian premier of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. An extremely hipster and youthful crowd, I could have sworn I was back in Melbourne, when I looked around.

Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) are a pair of pre-teen lovers who run away together into the wilderness on a small island in New England. It is 1965. Sam is an orphan on scout camp with a troupe of belligerent and violent boys supervised by hopeless Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) and Suzy resides on the island with her unhappy lawyer parents Walt and Laura Bishop –both somewhat underplayed by Bill Murray and Frances McDormand. Several search parties are headed to recover the two but their experiences of isolation have made them thick-skinned and granted them survival instincts.

Wes Anderson’s aesthetic is almost nauseatingly familiar. His sets, dolly shots and window-shop portraiture have succeeded in creating satirical portrayals of American personalities for many years, but are so artificial and typical now that it is distracting. Likewise, his cast of characters are each alienated, but connected by the same droll, considered pacing of their speech – except perhaps Captain Sharp, a subtle, remarkable performance by Bruce Willis.

The film is full of endearment and adventure but perhaps it could have been a bit more lively, and the children a little less despondent and mature. With George Clooney providing such a delightfully vigorous Mr. Fox, I had expected Anderson to write something a little more extravagant in his latest project. Even if it is no The Royal Tenenbaums you’re in for many laughs and, as always, a superb soundtrack.

3 blergs





More from Jemima Bucknell

SFF Opening Night Film Review: Not Suitable For Children (2012)

On a very wet Sydney evening, 2000 industry types and movie lovers...
Read More

1 Comment

  • Moonrise Kingdom by Ivette Fred-Rivera

    I loved the movie, I recommend it.

    Excellent ambience of the sixties era, great music used as a narrative element adding drama and rhythm, the use of the reading of the letters by Sam (Jared Gilman) and Susy (Kara Hayward) to show how their friendship as pen pals progresses into love in a linear sequence, actually, excellent performances of both, dynamic and unusual camera angles such as the ones seen when two scenes in different places are presented simultaneously because the screen is visually divided in half, and how we spectators identify with the left side of the screen where the good and concerned characters about the welfare of Sam are located because we have already identified ourselves with orphan Sam! (how could we not)? Exquisite composition and use of light. Very careful visual arrangements to advance the plot. I have to say that the detail of the mother’s pin placed in Sam’s boy scout uniform is really very moving. Director Wes Anderson is definitely very fond of detail.
    I want to draw attention to the symbolism in Susy’s constant use of binoculars: as she herself explains, ‘to be near while being far’, and the security that such optical viewpoint provides. With the binoculars placed in her makeup stylish eyes (which gives her a deeper and inquisitive look), she learns at a safe distance about her mother’s (Frances McDormand) infidelity with Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis).
    A question very present is how one can enrich life through fiction, and how life without fiction is not worth living. At the same time, the need for real life adventures. For example, the geography of the island where Susy and Sam escaped seems both real and imaginary. Issues concerning technology are displayed as well. Do we share Susy and Sams’ spirit of adventure with our more advanced technology?
    A very interesting and controversial issue: the insinuation of intercourse between Sam and Susy. The director luckily saves us from watching teen sex, we see their French kissing and touching, so issues of child pornography are bypassed completely. Anderson tells us, with a dose of black humor, of course, that is so present throughout the film, that Sam is already an adult when Captain Sharp offers to him a plate of sausage for dinner in his dining table, and he has none. Captain Sharp tells him that he’s more intelligent than most people including himself. He ends up being abandoned by Susy’s mother; Susy marries Sam. The guy who marries them looks gay, so another outsider is in.
    Being a ‘misfit’ is a matter of degrees, even Captain Sharp is very lonely despite being the captain. The film is about people of different ages, youth, children, adults. It is very well done. Because it gets you to think, of being more tolerant of differences so we can integrate better collectively.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.