There are roughly 171,476 words in current use and 47,156 obsolete words in your average dictionary these days, but there’s only one word that can eloquently express the full genius of Wes Anderson’s style of filmmaking: Weird.
Yes, generally the polite way of putting it is by using the euphemism ‘quirky’ or even ‘idiosyncratic’ (if you are writing for expensive magazines), but all his odd little films have pointed us in one direction: Wes Anderson seems a bit of a kooky chap, doesn’t he?
In his five live-action films before Moonrise Kingdom including The Darjeeling Limited, Anderson has, each time, managed to create an unreal and unhinged world of fractured people who spend the whole movie trying to come to terms with that one thing that characters in most other films wear on their sleeves—feelings.
You may not agree with the unnatural behaviour of characters in his films… *ahem*… ‘I’ may not agree with the unnatural behaviour of characters in his films (barring to an extent, Rushmore, which I love), but it’s probably true that Anderson gets laid a lot.
Because although it’s hard to point out exactly, there’s that quality about Anderson’s films that would make women dig him—there’s something inherently innocent, sweet and otherworldly about them, almost as if Anderson refused to grow up while everyone around him suddenly starting being adults. There’s a certain mystery and romanticism about Anderson too, that, when combined with his distinctive shot-taking, manifest into movies that you may or may not love, but definitely can’t ignore.
Anderson’s new movie, Moonrise Kingdom, is the pinnacle of that manifestation— it is that movie that all of Anderson’s movies were naturally leading up to, and which Anderson probably took so much time in making because, somewhere, even he was pretending to be an adult. But in his simplest film to date, Anderson has gleefully let go, and let his heart take over his head.
Unlike most Anderson’s films, and to borrow Bollywood jargon, there is a definite ‘hero’ and a definite ‘heroine’ in Moonrise Kingdom. Except that the two are 12-year-olds, who fall in love and run away together, in the summer of 1965.
The idyllic setting, as is in all Anderson films, lends to the charm—the movie is set on a Khaki Scout camp on New Penzance, an island somewhere in New England. The setting is a hint that an adventure is waiting to happen—and Anderson does not disappoint, as the star-crossed lovers camp and hitchhike through ‘Mile 3.25 Tidal Inlet’ trying to get through to the other side, where they intend to marry and live together forever.
Add to this fairy-tale love story, a sprinkling of those damaged adults trying to rain on their parade (including a very evil Tilda Swinton), and a destructive storm doing so quite literally, and you have that rare enchanting romantic comedy, that is both romantic and a comedy. The two leads (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) are —and there is no more sophisticated way of putting this – supremely cute, and the rest of the cast is terrific too.
Bill Murray is exactly the right amount of brilliant that’s needed to make every Anderson film superior and Harvey Keitel, Frances McDormand and Jason Schwartzman add more value to the proceedings.
But two unlikely actors steal the show —Edward Norton, of American History X and The Incredible Hulk fame—is endearing (yes, you read me right) and the very bada** Bruce Willis, whose casting first sounded as ridiculous as it would have sounded if Wes Anderson was to direct Die Hard 5, is, *ahem*, adorable in a role that requires him to play the anti-John McLane.
Moonrise Kingdom is a must-watch and a worthy addition to delightful first-love comedies like Little Manhattan, Flipped and the brilliant Son of Rambow, because it is about that time of our lives when love is at its purest —when love *is* love—much before we grow up and grow old and become one of those idiosyncratic, fractured characters in quirky Wes Anderson movies (whose unnatural behaviour I may not agree with).
On a side note, the film is about has as much adult content as a bar of Johnson and Johnson’s baby soap, so maybe someday the people responsible should try not being stoned out of their minds before giving movies censor certificates.