Quirky, unique, bizarre, hilarious, innovative, and genius. These are all words that can perfectly describe Wes Anderson, the writer and director of Moonrise Kingdom.
I've always been a huge fan of Wes Anderson's filmography. I own every single piece of work that he has put out. When I found out a film of his was going to be shot in my state of Rhode Island and that I'd be able to see it in the theaters, I became ecstatic.
Wes has the incredible talent to be able to create an environment which his characters live in that just seems so natural, to the point that it feels like you're watching a documentary. Moonrise Kingdom showcased that talent the best out of all of his films.
Moonrise Kingdom takes place on the fictional small island of New Penzance, which is in New England. Tensions are very high on this island as everyone seems to know each other (much like Rhode Island) and they're tired of dealing with that fact. Two of the main characters are attorneys and seem to be bombarded with cases even on a small island inhabited by very few citizens.
The beautiful scenery along the island was made possible by the many breathtaking views that Rhode Island has to offer. This comes as no surprise, however, as Wes usually brings out the best of each location he films at.
Moonrise Kingdom tells the story of one trying to find his or her own place in the world. Where you belong. That's all that anyone ever wants to find out and know.
The story is centered on the two main characters, Sam and Suzy. They are two preteens that fall in love with each other and want to spend the rest of their days on earth together. Hilarity ensues when Sam and Suzy decide to run away together.
Standing between them is just about everything imaginable; there is Suzy's parents, Sam's Khaki Scouts, and even the police force. The escape/runaway is a journey that needs to be seen to believe.
The ensemble cast on paper is some of the best ever put together on film. Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McNormand, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel and Jason Schwartzman. A combined nine Oscar nominations between them and two wins.
This film was Murray's sixth collaboration with Wes Anderson and he did not disappoint. He delivers very dry and sarcastic yet humorous one-liners throughout the film.
Bruce Willis was very solid in a role as a police officer that surprisingly never wields a weapon. Edward Norton was hilariously awkward to watch as a scoutmaster.
Frances McNormand, a previous Oscar winner, was just okay in this role. Usually I love her characters a lot more than I did in this film. Tilda Swinton had such a miniscule role that it was hard to judge her small screen time. Same for Harvey Keitel, although he did provide a few good laughs.
The standout from all the aforementioned though was Jason Schwartzman. He stole the show. He can deliver any line you give him with such comedic precision. I would watch him read the obituaries and still find a way to laugh.
Not to be overshadowed was Anderson's ability to find two brand new actors to play his leading roles as the film's two protagonists, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward). These two were remarkable. To be put in a cast like this and be the shining stars is a daunting task for actors their age. I would really like to see more of them in the future, hopefully Anderson can cast them into his entourage for future films like he does to most of his actors.
The writing in this film was perfect. Anderson has such a knack for dialogue that it makes me green with envy. He wasn't alone in this process. He had equally as smart Roman Coppola (son of famed director Francis Ford Coppola) to help him out.
What Wes didn't have help in and a category that he didn't need any was his direction. One key thing that amazes me from his films is the amount of intricacy in every single shot. There is so much detail that as a film lover it's hard to focus on one particular area of the screen because there is just so many remarkable things happening at once.
A great scene to see this is when they are walking through Fort Lebanon during the second half of the film. In the foreground is the main characters walking through, but if you pay attention to the background, there is so much detail and movement happening. Something like this is remarkable to do since it is virtually all one big rolling long take shot.
Wes is also able to make other difficult things seem so easy. The main one in this film was showcasing how being a preteen and just a human in general is awkward. There are many areas where he just gets it right.
This is one of them. Watching some scenes felt very awkward but when you dissect them they ring as true as can be. All of these scenes build up to a final scene full of commotion. It's a fun journey.
All in all, Moonrise Kingdom was a great cinematic experience that I'm glad I was able to see in the theaters.
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