Stuck Up Cinema – Moonrise Kingdom

Movie: Moonrise Kingdom
Released: 2012
Directed by: Wes Anderson

First things first: not to sound like a blubbering fanboy, but thank you Wes Anderson for making this movie. This is one of those movies that I could just watch again and again and again and love it more every time. A few weeks ago I reviewed another one of Anderson’s films The Darjeeling Limited. I reviewed it a few weeks back in Stuck Up Cinema, so you should go check it out if you haven’t. And no, I won’t be hot-linking the review here, I don’t want you to begin to feel too entitled as a reader. However I will link to Nathan’s review of Moonrise Kingdom on The Critic. Check that out to get his opinions on this movie if you like before you dive into reading my own.

Great, now that we’ve caught up with all of the other Wes Anderson posts on TUG it’s time to move on to my review of his latest movie Moonrise Kingdom. As I mentioned in The Darjeeling Limited review, which I’m only going to touch on again briefly here, Anderson has a very specific style to his films. You know you’re watching one of his movies just by seeing one scene. It’s not different in Moonrise Kingdom and I’d argue that this is one of his most Wes Anderson-y movies yet– not that that’s a bad thing.

The movie follows the idea of young love and the general magic of being young. The kids live in this wonderful fantasy world all while the parents have, in comparison, the harsh reality of life laid out in front of them. Really this makes all the adult characters just seem really sad by default. Sure, Edward Norton’s and Bruce Willis’ characters are the example of the old idea of absolute positivity in the face of adversity, but Bill Murray’s character is the perfect example of what they’re all thinking. He’s a sad lonely man who is completely aware that his wife doesn’t love him and that he’s on the brink of an extreme emotional breakdown (which he has in the scene with the shirtless Bill Murray that Nathan mentioned in his post.)

Of course, surprisingly, with all of this known the movie is filled to the brim with positivity. The movie’s goal is to make you feel good and, god damn, it’s going to make you feel soooooo good. I don’t know if I like it more than The Darjeeling Limited; I thought I did when I got out of the theatre and made my way home. I had the exact words in my head: ‘That was Anderson’s best movie!’ but looking back I don’t really feel the same. I was swayed into loving this movie by the complexity of a certain scene. It happens about halfway through the movie, before all the conflict comes together and explodes into gooey cinematic goodness, and it features the two young children exchanging their first intimate moment. It’s a challenging scene handled masterfully, especially considering the age of the actors, and it’s that moment that gave me the extremely positive thoughts on the film.

The aspect, in retrospect, that turns me away from my initial love for the film would be the climax. It was fun, cheeky and purposely silly, but I think that’s what turns me off from it. I can understand that really this entire movie is fantastical and over the top, but some of the things that went down in the climax were just utterly ridiculous, especially when the movie itself was very subtle with its humour and situations. The attempted connection of the climax to Noah’s Ark was almost laughable in and of itself. However let’s not go around touting that this makes the movie bad. Moonrise Kingdom is still wonderful and the climax is still insanely fun and rewarding, albeit just a little too silly.

Technically the camera work is impressive, Anderson once again showcases his skill and quirkiness with the camera movement and frame composition. It’s just pretty much a given that when going into one of his movies you’re going to see beautiful colour and each frame is going to be shot with finesse and blocked exceptionally. The opening is a perfect example as the camera moves around an entire house multiple times showcasing what the family does in their spare time as the opening credits roll on.

The music, wonderful. The acting, precise and engaging. All the adult leads are fantastic, especially Bruce Willis and Edward Norton, and the comedy is smart and funny. The two young leads do a great job and I was truly engaged in their love story. This is a movie that I would recommend outright to anybody without any hesitation because the movie is just that damn good and it’s so worth it. The climax is the only thing I didn’t like, but that really just takes the score down one point in my opinion. Really I can’t fathom how somebody would be disappointed in this film unless they were expecting something so outrageously different than it seemed. If you watch the trailer and like how it seems than I’d argue that it’s nigh impossible to not like the film. It delivers exactly what it offered and Anderson strikes again.

Moonrise Kingdom: 8/10

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