Moonrise Kingdom

 


Wes Anderson's beautifully captivating Moonrise Kingdom is the most accessible of the enigmatic auteur's recent films. I have found Anderson's movies unquestionably imaginative but disconcertingly clever, as well. That is to say, they are almost too rich -- to be admired rather than enjoyed. Moonrise is marvelously crafted, and Anderson's genius for tableaux is on full display. He composes scenes like paintings -- portraits, landscapes and still-lifes. Sumptuous. Into those frames he has placed two disaffected and damaged 12-year-old pen pals in New England in the 1960's -- Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) -- who fall in love and take off together on a wilderness expedition with camping gear, portable record player, overdue library books and pet kitty in tow. Parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) police (Bruce Willis) and khaki scouts (Edward Norton) set off in pursuit. The ensemble of Hollywood A-listers is marvelous but the two young actors Gilman and Hayward are a dream, their faces (which often fill the screen) are stoney, as if drained of feeling, but still, oddly, expressive -- maybe therein lies their magnetism. These are children in search of a life that's free of pain, both the kind they suffer and the kind they inflict. I can't remember the last time a film has so brilliantly transformed the familiar and invested it with new meaning. I'll not hear "I'm on you side" the same way ever again. Moonrise Kingdom is not an especially tender film but it is loving.

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