Upon the release of Rushmore people pronounced Wes Anderson as a fresh new voice in modern cinema. His quirky characters, aesthetically succinct framing, and bizarre stories swept both critics and audiences off their feet. However only one feature film later, The Royal Tenenbaums, there was a questioning of Anderson’s ability to progress as a filmmaker. Would his movies, like those of Tim Burtons, eventually become pandering parodies of themselves? For some this prediction proved itself true with The Life Aquaticfor others it was with The Darjeeling Limited. Luckily the same cannot be said forMoonrise Kingdom. While his distinct style is still present Anderson creates a small, silly, and quiet film that manages to convey a childlike wonder at the beauty of the world.
Moonrise Kingdom takes place in the year 1968 on an island in near New England. It tells the Romeo and Juliet-esque love story between orphaned Boy Scout, Sam and rebellious thirteen-year-old, Suzy Bishop. Suzy’s estranged parents (wonderfully played by Bill Murray and Francis McDormand) have their own issues to deal with including her affair with the islands dimwitted sheriff, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis). Both of the children feel out-of-place in their own environments and decide to run away together. Their goal is to create their own paradise in which to live happily ever after. Sam and Suzy’s departure causes chaos amongst the eccentric blend of unhappy adults as they search to find the young lovers.
The film moves along at an upbeat pace with scenes that are full of bursting beauty. Wes Anderson as always has been known for his use of color, but here he experiments with it. Of course there is the usual dose of bright reds and deep blues that should be expected from an Anderson picture. However there are certain scenes that deviate from the expected such as a conversation between Sam and Suzy at sunset or the story’s climax atop a church during an intense storm. In the scene at sunset a warm pink radiates the atmosphere while a dark blue hue in the climax evokes black and white horror films from the thirties. The framing is succinct, but not to the point of kitsch and never does it feel obnoxious.