Moonrise Kingdom review

Andrew Moraitis checked out Wes Anderson\'s latest at MIFF, and had this to report about the highly anticipated new film.

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Wes Anderson’s new film opens with an elaborately choreographed shot of a family
home. With a series of carefully choreographed dollies, tracks and pans, the director establishes the Bishops as a family in crisis, as the parents are spatially separated from their children. Like Anderson’s other work, Moonrise Kingdom is about communication. His characters are obsessives, fixated upon their own concerns and thus incapable of fulfilling the emotional needs of their loved ones.

Later, troubled child Suzy Bishop (Kara Heyward) and orphan Sam (Jared Gilman) run
away together. His scout leader (Edward Norton), her parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) and a local sheriff (Bruce Willis) attempt to find the pair on the coast of a New England town.

Despite the whimsical tone, Moonrise Kingdom is not a children’s film like The
Fantastic Mr. Fox
. For one thing, the film’s later detour into burgeoning sexuality renders it inappropriate for the very young. For another, Anderson’s film leans towards Truffaut in its exploration of childhood: it’s romantic but tempered by self-deprecating pragmatism. Although the film is structurally Anderson’s sparest film since Rushmore, it also has a sense of longing and pain, apparent in a beautifully acted sequence in which McDormand washes her on-screen daughter.

Visually, there is very little new here (indeed, the burnished glow of Robert Yeoman’s photography eschews close to his previous effort). The director re-appropriates familiar techniques (multiple protagonists, whip pans, dollies, handheld camerawork for scenes of violence or intimacy) to express his character’s joy and sorrow. Similarly, the actors face similar challenges, as they attempt to convey the poignancy in the stylised formality of Anderson’s writing, with the actors (especially the children) successfully achieving their director’s aims.

You either love or hate Anderson. His sparest film since Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom
may not sway haters, but its crisp, clean storytelling and sophisticated visual approach render it a relief to most contemporary cinema: it’s a film with a genuine point of view.

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