Moonrise Kingdom – Review

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) –

Directed by Wes Anderson. Starring Jared GilmanKara HaywardEdward NortonBruce WillisBill MurrayTilda SwintonJason SchwartzmanFrances McDormandHarvey Keitel.

This film has got so many of all those Wes Anderson’s trademarks that it could easily become a fan’s favourite: the strange magical feel, the deadpan humour (almost Airplane! slapstick) mixed with an underlying sadness and melancholia, those classic sideways tracking shots across the sets, the reddish/sepia colour palette, Bill Murray, the quirky music… This could be nobody else’s work, but Wes Anderson’s!

And yet, at the same time, you may argue, we’ve seen it all before. Not only there’s a strange feeling of Déjà vu here permeating Moonrise Kingdom, but also the inconclusive, weightless and wobbly storytelling and the stock-characters this time feel even more exposed than they usually are. Maybe because the central story about 2 young kids who run away from home to find each other and fall in love, is so heartfelt and sweet that it almost feels out of tune with the cartoony nature of the world around them. I really wanted to fall in love for them, but everything around made me more and more aware of the trappings of such film-making style.

I’m not even suggesting that the cast is not great, because it is: Bill Murray plays slightly against his likeable self, Bruce Willis is as sweet as he’s rarely been before, Ed Norton‘s performance too is perfectly pitched and rather charming… And yet despite making this a great ensemble cast, each of them actually pulls the film in a different direction and eventually they add very little to the mix. For example, did we really need Harvey Keitels character in this film? Could Tilda Swinton be anymore two-dimensional?

This is obviously an idealised vision of adolescent relationships, where love is honest, pure, simple, uncompromising, and it is probably the best part of the Moonrise Kingdom. And yet, the quirky style, the overloaded music (really too much, too loud and too intrusive in my view. There is never a moment of silence in this film. I really despised it, I’m afraid), the over-the-top secondary characters, all enhance this feeling of hyper-reality which somehow prevents you from fully engage with the film. But then again, as I said, this is a Wes Anderson’s movie and his fans will certainly love it… I’m not so sure about the casual viewer.

As far as I am concerned, I liked it, I’m happy I saw it, I appreciated its technical skills, its meticulous look,  its quirky humour (this is one of those films that leaves a smile on your face throughout its entire length as opposed to induce out-loud laughs) but in the end it is all a bit too indulgent, slightly hollow, a bit up its own self, and in the end, it just left me a bit cold. And for a film that’s all about pure feelings and childhood, that’s probably not a great sign.


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3 Responses to Moonrise Kingdom – Review

  1. le0pard13 says:

    This one is definitely on my summer movie watch this. Thanks for this.

  2. xego says:

    I just got to see Moonrise Kingdom yesterday and liked it quite a bit. I am a big Wes Anderson fan so there is no surprise there. I think one of the reasons that people are so fatigued with WA is that so many indie films have tried to nick from his aesthetic and some rather blatantly such as last years Academy nominated “Extremely loud and incredibly close” with it’s oddball kid on a mission with his overly elaborate home made pop-up-books tied with ribbon, and the ensemble cast of adults that pop in and out of the story to help him on his heroes journey. Or a film like “Submarine” that seems to wear its influences on its sleeve. Not that WA doesn’t gleefully in his own way pull from vast resources in the past and lay them out like Easter Eggs as a reward for those who really care about the minutiae like he does.

    I am glad to have Moonrise Kingdom it does finally though make me wonder what Anderson will do for an encore? There are a lot of people posing a lot of questions about him, is he growing as an artist? seems to be the one that I hear the most. I can remember a time in Steven Spielberg’s career when even though he had only recently made some of the most wildly successful films in history his more cynical critics complained about him with his kid centric Disney-fied world view. Amistad and Schindler’s List seemed to silence most of that. I don’t believe that Anderson is merely dog-paddling because he doesn’t know how to progress. I think he is working his process in his own time like artists that paint the same landscape or sketch the same still life until they are finally satisfied. Personally I think Anderson will one day blow our minds as his career trajectory goes off in a entirely new direction. We will look back on these and marvel.

  3. Pingback: Moonrise Kingdom – review | Dominic Yeo

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