Review: Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson has officially become the comfort food of art house cinema. With his symmetrical compositions, angular spacial consideration, offbeat sense of humor, and pacing between a promenade and a gallop, all of his films are recognizable in style and execution. He completely fulfills the criteria for which the Nouvelle Vague prescribed as “the auteur,” which certainly deserves praise for his rigid individualism. However, it could also pose as a potential detriment to his development as a filmmaker. Regardless of his cinematic future, his most recent venture, Moonrise Kingdom, is very much more of the same, which will likely incur polarized reactions.

In this tale of first crushes, Anderson chronicles the escapades of two preadolescents, Sam and Suzie, who run away together. However, their traveling is finite, for they inhabit the homely Island of New Penzance. When Sam’s scout master (Edward Norton) and Suzie’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) discover the disappearances, an all out search and rescue mission goes into effect. Also involved in the efforts are the local police chief (Bruce Willis) and other scout masters (Anderson regular Jason Schwartzman and Harvey Keitel) from neighboring islands. Making matters urgent, a major storm is heading towards the island, threatening devastation. Anderson’s screenwriting (with Roman Coppola) is as immediately apparent as his visual style, with delightful visual gags coupled with his traditional rapier wit. There are a couple narrative conceits that take the easy way out on occasion, but on the whole, Anderson’s tale is very nicely spun. The cast is also impressive on all counts, and furthers Anderson’s continual theme of the immaturity of adults in the face of children. Anderson’s point here is correct it seems, for adults never give children enough credence for their innate intelligence, and conversely, adults are never as clever as they might believe themselves to be.

What is there left to say about Anderson’s visual style? It remains as recognizable (and, in some cases, predictable) as ever. In both visual structure and narrative drive, Anderson’s film could be a much younger brother to the wilder and violent Pierrot Le Fou by Jean-Luc Godard. Every shot is immaculately framed and taken into consideration, the color palette reflects the murky greens and browns of the forest, while each character is defined by their costumes, props. The soundtrack and score are excellent and suitable, reflective of the environments and situations which pop up throughout. Indeed, Anderson’s film would make a brilliant visual textbook for those looking into all of the details and purposes of the facets of cinema. However, this once again brings into question how long Anderson’s expiration date with this type of style will endure. Granted, every director must have visual sensibilities about himself, but the best continue to thrive by developing that style and finding new ways to employ it. Moonrise Kingdom is a wonderfully made film to be sure, one of Anderson’s best in fact, but in the end it does not seem to mark anything novel in Anderson’s cinematic approach. Hes may be telling new stories, but is he really saying anything new?

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~ by romancinema on June 20, 2012.

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