Friday, 1 June 2012

Moonrise Kingdom


Director/co-writer Wes Anderson tells a qwerky tale of a young boy scout who flees Camp Ivanhoe, causing his Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), fellow khaki scouts and local authorities to search for him.
It’s 1965 in New Penzance, New England and two youngsters have the weight of the world on their shoulders; Sam (Jared Gilman), an orphan and least popular kid at camp, and Suzy (Kara Hayward), a “troubled child” in the eyes of her parents with no friends. A year after they first met at church, the two 12 year-olds flee their unhappy existence and try to make it on their own together. But despite Sam’s camping expertise, they don’t get far… with the scout hunt and Suzy’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) and sheriff (Bruce Willis) comprising a local search party, the young lovers have to do more than stab a hunting scout with scissors and set up camp at a nearby cove.

A worthy ensemble cast bring together a touching story of two emotionally damaged youngster’s pubescent struggle who find an unfamiliar comfort in each other’s company. Though the film deals with potentially serious issues, namely in the affects of adverse child/parent relationships, Wes champions a child’s willing independence and adventurousness, without undermining these still modern-day concerns. A doting sense of light-heartedness is imbued within their journey, rooted in Sam and Suzy’s innocence is a somewhat humorous but likely depiction of a childhood romance as Suzy asks Sam to feel her chest, ensuring him it will get bigger. The film’s comedic stance is signposted early on in Scout Master Ward’s militant attitude towards the boys, taking his role as camp leader seriously. As he observes his scouts activities he questions why one boy has built a den on top of a tree and gives another a warning for speeding on his motorbike. The random but striking appearances of Bob Balaban as a narrator, who once enters the diegetic narrative, dressed in duck-boots and a gnome-like hat, adds to the peculiarly pleasant droll composition.

There is a strong sense of a much-missed authenticity in the nostalgic return to rural America with the artificiality of the simple, stark locale with one-hut-one-man-institution and close-knit, Sunday school community. The red painted houses and the way Suzy is dressed (as well as her younger brothers, in their brown dungarees and side combed hair), coupled with the backing track of the orchestrated choir, is a firm nod back to the era. The use of Suzy's binoculars not only adds a worthy cinematographic element but too represents adventure and freedom, the 'superpower' to see further than her isolated existence. The juxtaposition of the geographical constraints of the island and the vibrant emotion writhing to break free is delicately positioned as situational for the characters involved yet metaphorically speaks wider of its self-defined plot dimensions.

Wes Anderson, admired for his direction in Rushmore (1998), has produced a breath of fresh air in this poetic world of dreamlike perfection. From the delicate opening sequence in which the camera takes its time to pan the quaint house of Suzy and her family, the camera seemingly drifts through each scene in search of a lost purity, capturing the idyllic setting that is 1960’s New England.

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