Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel and Bob Balaban.
Moonrise Kingdom is a movie from Wes Anderson, the man who is responsible for many great looking movies. He made Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr Fox and other movies with quirky characters in odd situations living in a world that is viewed in his own way by Anderson. Moonrise Kingdom didn't looked quite different, the first look of it revealed nothing extraordinary but i was happy to look forward to his next movie. It received an enthusiastic response at Cannes and made record of the highest per theater average in US. So this is a romantic comedy drama basically revolving around two young teenagers. The year is 1965 and it is set in a fictitious island of New Penzance. The story is narrated by Bob Balaban. It has an ensemble cast of some really beloved faces mostly in short appearances that just enhances the beauty and interest in this movie. Sam Shakusky (Gilman) is an orphan boy attending a "Khaki Scout" summer camp, he is twelve years old. On the other hand, Suzy Bishop (Hayward) lives with her parents and three younger brothers in a house called Summer's End. Her parents are Walt and Laura Bishop (Murray and McDormand). The movie itself begins with a very brilliant and somewhat signature way for Anderson with a scene that shows us the house Summer's End in detail. There is this superb background music going on and we get to have a tour of this lovely colorful house, each room and seeing each character busy in their daily routine. What a lovely way to begin this movie.
How did Sam and Suzy first met? Well it was during a wonderful church performance of Noye's Fludde by Benjamin Britten (most of his music is used during some significant moments). It is a very odd yet quite memorable sequence as he makes his way into the dressing room with many girls dressed as some kind of a bird and Sam asks "What kind of a Bird are you?" pointing at Suzy. They become pen pals after this meeting, exchanging letters to one another and deciding to reunite one summer and run away together. It is such a nostalgic feast seeing these two young characters falling in love (the adolescent love) because one way or another, we've been through the same. It is really not hard for us to root for these two characters once they set out on their journey, we know its forbidden love but we can't help but cheer for them. Its been long since Anderson based his movie on younger characters, the hopeful yet odd younger characters with their dreams and goals and a dedication to do what they think is right without caring for anyone else. He usually makes his movies on odd, flawed, bittersweet older characters who've been through a lot in their lives, they appear quite tragic, broken and nowhere as hopeful as the children are. When Sam and Suzy are on the run, you can't help but wish for them to find a place where they'll be happy and not be like heartbroken older characters in the movie. Suzy's parents are quite odd, Walt is somewhat carefree but still loves his family and Laura is having an affair. They still show affection towards their children and tries not to let their own oddball messed up life effect their children. We have Sam's Scout Master Randy Ward (Norton) who has his own issues regarding the camp. A lonely whinny Captain Sharp (Willis) too. So it becomes somewhat natural for us to wish that these children find a way together to be happy before they become anything like the older characters around them.
You will fall in love with how both Sam and Suzy spend their days hiking and camping together in beautiful locations around lakes and hill and in trees. Its quite beautiful and exciting to be free and away from anything else in the world that tries to revoke your license of being free, independent and happy. Slowly their young romance blooms, the dance together and kiss, cook, read stories etc. Late on in the movie, there comes various twists and turns in their lives as they tries to run away from their camp fellows, detectives and their parents who are on their way to find them. Both Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward delivered good performances, quite frankly one of the best debuts in years for younger actors. Hayward is someone who takes the lead here, her icy cold yet somewhat warm stares speaks volumes about her. The best performance in this movie comes from Bruce Willis surprisingly, well if he stops caring a little for paychecks and big movies, this is what you'll get. Its quite sad to see his character, a lonely somewhat looser in his life searching for the love of his life. The most funniest character in this movie was the Scout Master played by Edward Norton, hilarious. Everyone else did a nice job too, as a ensemble cast, every one of them successfully plays every bit of what they were ask to do contributing largely to this movie.
Moonrise Kingdom's beauty is largely in terms of its visual perfection. The cinematography is quite amazing, one of the best i have seen this year. From perfectly capturing the beauty of the town to the melancholy that is in the hearts of its people with the close ups. Signature scenes including Suzy's binoculars with which she sees the world carefully and quite closely. The production design is brilliant too. Apart from the wonderful performances and cinematography, it has one of the best use of music in movies this year so far. There are bits of pieces of Alexander Desplat's wonderful score but for most of the time, you'll get to hear some classic tunes and symphonies. I still can't get enough of the striking mixture of colors and textures we get to see in this movie. Wes Anderson along with Roman Coppola wrote the screenplay to its perfection, taking an odd subject and filling it with sweet, sad and quirky charm. Moonrise Kingdom is one of the best movies of Anderson's career and this year. The best kind of movie with children for mature audiences. A delightful Summer indie perfection - Anderson style.