MOONRISE KINGDOM, the new film from the brilliant mind of Wes Anderson, is a joy to behold.
Wes Anderson, the master of quirky, heartfelt drama has delivered in MOONRISE KINGDOM, one of the films of the year. It’s terrific. Anderson really is something, bringing together an ensemble of great actors to inhabit a fabulous oddball collection of characters in each film he makes and here we have a group to rival the faculty of students and staff in Rushmore, the family and hangers-on in The Royal Tenenbaums, the brothers in The Darjeeling Limited or the crew in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
Set on the island of New Penzance off the northeastern United States in 1965 – a place of no small interest due to its Native American past, as explained to us by our narrator who’s played with a superb combination of wit, seriousness and matching bobble hat and gloves by Bob Balaban – MOONRISE KINGDOM is a love story between two 12-year-olds: the quietly thoughtful Suzy (Kara Hayward) and the whip-smart Sam (Jared Gilman). Of course, a plan to run away together can’t run smoothly when Suzy’s parents are Bill Murray (how could you possibly make an Anderson movie without him?) and Frances McDormand. They have their own marital issues that are about to boil over and Sam’s scout troop master at Camp Ivanhoe, Edward Norton (in one of his very best performances) doesn’t like his routine disrupted, not one bit.
Added to this eclectic mix you also have the local police chief Captain Sharp drafted in to track down the runaways, played with wonderful hangdog disappointment by Bruce Willis, the head of Social Services (who’s just called Social Services) embodied by a formidably stern Tilda Swinton in a vivid royal blue cape and Anderson regular Jason Schwartzman as Cousin Ben, the most unconventional scoutmaster you’ve ever seen and you’ve got a cast to die for.
“We’re in love. We just want to be together. What’s wrong with that?”
Says Suzy at one point and the answer is simply nothing at all. Because with that simple wish and another beautifully told tale, Anderson and his co-screenwriter Roman Coppola has written a script that touches your sentimental heart in just the right way one minute while making you laugh out loud the next. That, coupled with a bunch of actors all clearly having fun with such great material and at the very top of their respective games (pay special attention three-quarters of the way through for a doozy of a cameo that just takes your breath away) and you’ve got an utterly charming movie that I can’t wait to see it again.