Review: Moonrise Kingdom

Starring: Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton
Director: Wes Anderson
Rating: 12A

Scouting for swirls.

There’s something quite intimidating about going to see a film by a director who has a very distinct, established style when you haven’t actually seen any of his films before. When I told people I was going to see this, most of them asked me “oh, do you like Wes Anderson?” I had to confess I didn’t know; apart from half-watching The Royal Tenenbaums when it was on TV many years ago, I don’t think I’ve actually seen anything of his before. But I’m pretty open-minded and my boyfriend wanted to see this film, so I happily trotted off to the cinema to watch it, and I’m relieved to say that I actually found it a very enjoyable experience.

Perhaps the part of the film that I was most prepared for by everyone’s reactions was the fact that it’s such a visual treat. Even if I’d been entirely unmoved by the plot (which, just to clarify, was not the case at all) I think I could have quite happily sat through the entire film just drinking in the aesthetics of it all, with the brilliant and inventive use of perspective and colour to really brighten up every scene and keep my attention. In fact, I think I was probably more engaged with the plot because the visuals were so exciting – when you’re already having such an evocative experience in a cinema, I suspect you’re more receptive to all the other elements of the film.

Having two young adolescents as the ostensible leads of the film was a brave move as I doubt there’s a cinemagoer on this planet who hasn’t had an otherwise enjoyable film ruined by an unbearably precious child actor, but thankfully that wasn’t a problem this film suffered from. Quite the opposite, in fact: I found Kara Hayward completely beguiling as Suzy and thought that she captured the character’s self-assuredness perfectly. I was a bit less convinced by Jared Gilman as Sam, but then I feel like he perhaps had the slightly trickier part so I’m willing to be more forgiving. Of course, there were plenty of big names around to headline, and some of the best performances came from people who were only in the movie fleetingly, like Tilda Swinton as Social Services, or Jason Schwartzman as…actually, the main thing I remember about his character is that he was in a Scoutmaster’s uniform, but let’s just say that was an EXCELLENT decision, especially when he was running.

Ultimately I think I really liked the message that this film seemed to be portraying, the idea that the two children were far more mature than the grown-ups while still being full of a youthful hotheadedness that meant they weren’t as ready for commitment as they thought they were, and that they probably weren’t quite ready to start making all their own decisions just yet. I was expecting to be disappointed by the conclusion because everything else had been so heightened that I expected it to be surreal, but Anderson struck a satisfying balance between the convention of a romantic story involving people too young to live happily ever after while still remaining faithful to the generally arch tone of the film. I’m inclined to think that, since I enjoyed this so much, perhaps this is the kick I need to go and actually watch all those other Wes Anderson films that people assumed I already knew about.

Coming Attractions:
LOL: Social networking-related drama starring Miley Cyrus and Demi Moore arrives a good five years too late to be interesting or relevant. Let’s face it, this movie should’ve been about Demi posing as her teenage daughter Miley in order to cougar Douglas Booth but good, because I would have watched the shit out of that.
Joyful Noise: Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah fight about choirs or something. This feels like the sort of film that ought to have Beyoncé in a lead role, so the fact that it doesn’t tells you everything you need to know.
The Five-Year Engagement: I’m tempted to see this just to find out if my complicated relationship with Jason Segel is lightened by the presence of Emily Blunt.
Your Sister’s Sister: In which some seemingly good actors take on what looks like the most tediously predictable plot ever.

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