Monday, 28 May 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

With an amazing cast including the likes of Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, as well as the usual Wes Anderson casting of Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, plus two 12 year old children who fall in love and run away; it’s hard to imagine that Wes Anderson’s seventh film would be anything less than amazing. Set in 1965 in New England, Moonrise Kingdom is a moving story that shows the journey that Sam and Suzy make as they run away from home together. Although the two children live in very different worlds – Sam, an orphaned Scout and Suzy, a schoolgirl living within a nuclear family; they find out that they’re both emotionally troubled and this makes their 12 years seem like so much more. Despite half of the cast being children, the themes of the movie are more grown up, dealing in violence, love and adultery – perhaps contributing to their emotional instability.

The film deals a lot in physical acting, something that seems to be quite unpopular amongst mainstream audiences but largely popular to independent cinema fans – which has been shown recently in films such as Drive. A lot of the communication between Sam and Suzy comes through their body language and the silences that linger just a second too long. This is especially seen in the scene on the beach where each action is communicated through eye contact as they countdown before jumping into the sea and before they start dancing in their underwear on the beach at night to Francoise Hardy’s ‘Le Temps De L’Amour’, translating to ‘Time of Love’ in English, fitting due to their recent realisation that they have fallen in love. Anderson also shows the pair share their first ever kiss – portraying the reality rather than the Hollywood version of kissing as Sam and Suzy awkwardly lean in and kiss before Suzy lets Sam touch her chest – who reluctantly obliges.

The couple even go as far as getting ‘married’ by Jason Schwartzman who tries to help Sam and Suzy make a getaway but this is stopped due to Sam going back to get Suzy’s binoculars. Throughout the film, Suzy uses the binoculars and says she feels like she has a super power because she can see things close up, even if they’re not that far away. This element of fantasy as well as her constant reading of books reminds us that both Sam and Suzy are still children, despite the complexity of their characters and their relationship. As their relationship develops, their story becomes more moving as we want them to successfully get away from the confines of normal life but at the same time, they have people who love them back at home. Despite Sam not having any birth parents, the Scout Master Ward played by Edward Norton gets emotional when Sam has run away and feels sad when Sam says he doesn’t want to be a Scout any more.

A clinical and cold hearted social worker is played brilliantly by Tilda Swinton and Anderson really shows the harsh reality of Sam’s fate as the only dealing she has to have with him is to check his folder and make a phone call, not thinking about the consequences as she puts the phone down to the Scout Master Ward and Captain Sharp who are shocked, and then goes on to deal with the next person without even a trace of emotion. This is offset by Captain Sharp’s heart-warming gesture to take Sam under his wing, a moving action as Sam’s previous foster parents now want nothing to do with him and ‘cannot invite him back’ due to being ‘emotionally disturbed’.

Moonrise Kingdom is backed with naturalistic landscapes that complement the pastel based outfits that Sam and Suzy wear – as Sam wears his scout uniform throughout, blending in with nature with his khaki green outfit. Suzy wears two variations of a 60s style dress with a big white collar and white cuffs– one in a bright yellow and another in dark peach. There’s even a documentary element to the film as Bob Balaban narrates, frequently cutting to different parts of New Penzance island whilst talking about different facts. On top of everything, the sublime soundtrack fits perfectly in the background – with a variety of moods and types of music – going from Francoise Hardy’s jangly upbeat ‘Le Temps De L’Amour’ to the crooning blues number ‘Ramblin’ Man’ from Hank Williams in between snippets of classical music including parts from ‘The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra’.

Despite parts of the movie being slow paced and the criminally small amount of time that Jason Schwartzman was featured; my high expectations were met with possibly Wes Anderson’s most unlikely film to date. With a great premise, wonderful soundtrack and an incredible ensemble of actors and actresses – Moonrise Kingdom sees Wes Anderson tackle what is essentially a children’s movie in a very modern way, confronting the issue of children growing up too fast as there is teenage nudity, ear piercing, pipe smoking and violent stabbing with lefty scissors amongst other unusual activities for 12 year olds but also showing that at heart, as they settle down at night and Suzy reads books to Sam and later, the rest of the Scout troop; children never grow up as fast as they think they are.


By Aurora Mitchell

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