“Who is this bimbo?”
The wonderful Peanuts meets Swallows & Amazons vibe of Moonrise Kingdom helps make this to be Wes Anderson’s most atmospheric and prettiest film yet. It is also Wes Anderson at his most undiluted. Every frame, every moment is unapologetically Wes Anderson.
This isn’t Anderson changing gears, or attempting to reach out beyond his fanbase, this is him whittling away at the same block of wood. Polishing, smoothing down, rounding off. There’s something obsessive about his process, now. Pleasingly so, if you’re on board – maddening, if not. This film, even more than his previous work, somehow, feels more like craft than art. The careful way the world here is constructed; decoratively patterned and symmetrical, stagey and stylistically affected.
Even so, aside from the usual fetishisation of aesthetic quirkiness, this, for me, is his funniest and emotionally rewarding film, possibly since Rushmore. There’s an ache to recapture life’s fleeting moments of magic, such as the giddy tumult of a first love, that goes beyond twee ennui. As much as this film romanticises childhood nostalgia, the heartache is palpable.
Again we get precocious children acting in what they percieve to be a grow-up way, and childlike adults, and everyone is messed up in their own quietly desperate way. The old complaint of Anderson’s characters having a sense of entitlement and displaying a kind of bored, privileged disaffection still roughly applies, but I never get the sense that Anderson condones it. He ridicules and questions it.
The two young, star-cross’d lovers are great. In the same way that Max Fisher was the “worst” student in his school, Sam is the most disliked member of his scout group. This loner’s life is turned upside down when he meets Suzy (an amazing debut from Kara Hayward), who feels equally alienated and inwardly burns with the emotional fragility and ferociousness of any teen girl. It is when the two turn runaways that the film really takes flight. In fact, the beach scene where the two of them take their first, tentative romantic steps might be the film’s best scene. Although the bit where Sam and Bruce Willis share a beer is up there. But the performances are across the board enjoyable.
Though it’s as great looking and detailed as ever, the locations, cinematography and the folksy feel give Moonrise Kingdom its own unique visual style which I really dug. As well as the story, which is Wes Anderson at his most witty and bittersweet.
Update: Best Films of 2012