Thursday, July 26, 2012

Review: Moonrise Kingdom

Last Saturday, I went to see Wes Anderson's new movie Moonrise Kingdom, and I'm still mulling it over.

If you like Wes Anderson movies, then you will like Moonrise Kingdom. If you do not like Wes Anderson movies, well, this is a Wes Anderson movie. If you don't know what a Wes Anderson movie is and wonder if you will like it or not, then here are some things to know.

In my opinion, Wes Anderson does sweet melancholy better than anyone in movies. His characters often seem disconnected from one another as they try to work out some secret sorrow. One of the things I liked about this movie is that our young heroes, Sam and Suzy, decide to support one another, decide that sharing the sorrow makes it more bearable. And in doing so, they break open the secrets of the characters around them. By the end of the movie, those secret sorrows that kept people apart have been to a great extent ameliorated as they make new and unexpected connections.

The point of view is fascinating. Clearly, the film shows us things the adults are doing and saying that the young protagonists cannot see, but I still get the sense throughout that the film is told from the point of view of the protagonists, an adolescent's perspective on adult behavior and motivation. The police chief is known only as "Captain Sharp." The scoutmaster is "Scoutmaster Ward." The social worker is "Social Services." They are known by function not name, the way as a kid you never know the name of your first-grade teacher.

As with many of Anderson's films, the young people in it are trying to piece together from the people around them how to be an adult, and the adults aren't really helping all that much. Actually, the adults are trying to figure it out, too.

As I think about it, this illuminates one of the things I loved about the movie: the constant return of the musical theme and composition The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra by Benjamin Britten. Here's a piece designed to make sense of the "adult" world of classical music by breaking it into smaller pieces and explaining it section by section, then putting it all back together again in a new way. Which is pretty much what the movie does.

A couple more things to note: the movie is very stylized, no doubt. It makes the acting seem quite stiff when you're used to a more naturalized style. The standout in the movie--well, the standouts are the young leads, who are phenomenal--but among the big names in the movie, the standout is Bruce Willis who seems completely at home on the Island of New Penzance, like he's lived there all his life.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this great review! It gives such a much better sense of the movie than my friends and I could figure out when we were trying to decide what to see last week-end ... For what it's worth, we decided on "Safety Not Guaranteed," which I found fun and quirky and quite surprisingly thought-provoking in some unexpected ways that I won't say anything about here in case you or your other readers are going to see it someday on your own account.

Anonymous said...

And, on a different note, just saw a different wonderful movie, about a young boy this time, "Le gamin à vélo" ("The Kid with a Bike" or "The Boy with a Bike").

Visit World Wide Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Services said...

Anderson delivers a magnificent blend of artistry, humor and emotional resonance.