Film: “Moonrise Kingdom”; Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton; Director: Wes Anderson; Rating: ****
Can a director set out to make a film for film’s sake that is not seemingly connected to reality but isn’t cocky or concocted enough to be either self conscious or replete with such over the top elements that repel you? If you have seen the films of Wes Anderson, you know that among the many guys who could do that, he is the one.
“Moonrise Kingdom”, a delightful, ‘little’ and absolutely quirky comedy is the realization of that potential of the director.
In 1965, a young, lonely, bullied 12-year-old kid Shakusky (Jared Gilman) writes a note and leaves his scout camp in an island. As his scoutmaster (Edward Norton) and the only policeman on the island (Bruce Wills) search for him, there’s report of the disappearance of a young girl, Suzy (Kara Hayward), from that tiny island. Turns out the little boy and the ‘weird’ girl, had planned to run away together.
As the small retinue of people on the island search for the two, the two young ‘lovers’ have the time of their lives for a few days in their own little ‘moonrise kingdom’.
This is a perfect fable – a fable that doesn’t really try to tell you anything and exists for its own sake. It is rich, fantastical tale replete with unlimited, unexpected charm that delights your heart and soul.
The mainstay of the film is whimsical characters. Yet, they are unconventionally whimsical and filled with elements and combinations you’d rarely have seen. Many famous directors, lets take the case of Quentin Tarantino, use violence – physical and verbal – to show how ‘weird’ and different his characters from others.
Anderson relies on none of these easy tricks for affects, instead carefully creating idiosyncrasies that clash with those of others to create deliciously humorous slices of life unseen.
Without trying too hard to make his characters stand out, and using almost everyday dialogues, dialects and incidents, but placing it obliquely and in conflict with one another, he manages to create a portrait of the people who populate his universe without really seeming too hard to make them different.
None of the adult actors seem to have anything extraordinary about them. Indeed, their ordinariness is almost boring. But when he overturns the characters, making the adults normal i.e. with varying degree of dull and dumb (Norton deadpan and Willis dumb), but makes the kids extremely smart and intelligence, he creates a very wacky conflict.
It is this seeming effortlessness of his effort, and the brilliant performance of the kids, that is the greatest strength of Anderson’s latest outing. Its unconventional whimsicality will win your hearts and soul.