Thursday, November 8, 2012

The young person's guide to life: Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson's vibrant aesthetic has earned him a reputation as one of the most original voices in American cinema. Yet, inventive the filmmaker's melding of visual fancy and narrative idiosyncrasy often is, Anderson’s films rarely allow you access to an underlying affect. Despite often conjuring fleeting moments of wistfulness, they tend to keep you at arm's length. Moonrise Kingdom at first suggests the same impenetrable aura of his other films, but the colorful surface and shoebox set design quietly reveal a poignant character mosaic underneath. The film is set in the mid-1960’s and tells the story of a boy and a girl that come together against nearly all other forces in their lives. The boy is a resourceful, but estranged member of a scout team, while the girl silently endures the misery of her parents’ loveless marriage. The two bond over Benjamin Britten, books, and other miscellanies, before setting out together into the wilderness. Anderson finds the right level of intimacy in expressing the benevolence of their relation while juggling numerous subplots involving adults characters (played by the likes of Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, and others), all of whom yearn for the kind of connection that the boy and girl share but seemed destined to lose. Moonrise Kingdom's balance of various story threads and disparate sensibilities comes with all the trademark wit and creativity we've come to expect from the filmmaker. But rather than using these tools to create barriers around the characters, Anderson instead spins them into a benign tale of human vulnerability and a celebration of the simple joy of narrative. (Wes Anderson, 2012) ***½ 

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