Film fully captures beauty of childhood
Wes Andersonâ€™s eclectic Moonrise Kingdom screens like a storybook fable, as if those elementary Magic Tree House or Hardy Boys novels about the longing for the great American adventure came to life. His focused vision and intelligent dialogue give heart to beaming personalities and render a perfect tale of summer whimsy.
When sending love letters no longer tends the flame of a youthful crush, two young children find themselves forced to take their secret romance into the New England woods.
The 1965 summer, thronged with boy scouts, stolen library books and unbridled adventure, ends up offering a small town more than a vacation â€” a complete overhaul inside and out.
Much like Wes Andersonâ€™s other works â€” The Royal Tenenbaums and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom â€” is precise, calculated and purposeful, yet wholly honest.
A well-oiled Rube Goldberg machine, twist after character after plotline propel the story in a genuinely pleasant and focused way.
The filmâ€™s story is spirited and invigorating. Moonrise Kingdom wields all the magic and improbability of a fairy tale without the mystical creatures themselves â€” though Bob Balaban as the narrator looks the part of a perfect back country Maine forest gnome.
A true testament to the power of story telling in any medium,Â the young-at-heart Anderson finds his niche exploring variations on the execution of American folklore.
Stylized cinematography breathes life into Andersonâ€™s curious imagination. Vibrant colors and high contrasts paint a utopian summer vision. Methodical pans and close-ups guide the viewersâ€™ attention.
Cleanly executed dolly shots painlessly transition the focus of the characters. Every shot is crisp, every decisive movement and facial expression captured. There is method to the moonrise. Andersonâ€™s acute focus and creative direction flawlessly translate the storybook-like tale to the big screen.
But what is a story without its characters? Taken at face value, films highlighting young actors tend to be either hit orÂ miss. Effortlessly, the children in Moonrise Kingdom display maturity and talent beyond their years. Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) mold a complex and adult relationship for being so young.
Hayward, especially adept at portraying the aloof and angsty preteen, channels a character so grown up and believable that one easily forgets how young she is.
Though Suzyâ€™s mother Laura Bishop (Frances McDormand) and Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) have their quirks and moments, Suzyâ€™s father Walt Bishop (Bill Murray) and Scoutmaster Ward (Edward Norton) tend to their farcical personalities with comic expertise. Murray, aged before any one knew it, manages the distant father character to become an audience favorite for comic relief.
Norton, doing his best to hold a group of scouts together, is naive but loveable â€” a kid in more rights than the children in the film.
But yes, the children: A youthful band of inglorious basterds! Suzyâ€™s sharp quips and the scoutsâ€™ intelligent banter unravel charmingly sadistic humor and memorable characters.
The characters Lazy Eye, Roosevelt and Izod are all so different and well-crafted, each serving a particular purpose in the story and mood. More than mere cogs in Andersonâ€™s pristine machination, itâ€™s the children that deliver the standout performances.
Perhaps the most charming of all the elements of Andersonâ€™s nostalgic tale of youthful romance, however, is the stunning music. The euphoric orchestration is a simple spectacle. Flute and piccolos, violins and bass, the back country twang of the melodies â€” Alexandre Desplat (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) produces a pointedly stylistic and romantically mystical soundtrack to accompany the fantastical adventure.
The variations of â€śThe Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universeâ€ť weave together a musical anthology that stands on its own.
Among the brilliant use of Benjamin Britten and timely country ditties, the symphonic movements parallel the plot twists and character developments. Truly, the magic would be much less potent had the score been less innovative and imaginative.
From the beginning of the film, everything works. The cinematography, the music, the characters and the story help Moonrise Kingdom exude childish romance and New England charm.
As much of a cinematic story book, the film is also a cinematic symphony â€” the ebb and flow of harps, violins and organs parlaying a story of their own.
Besides being a marvel to watch, Moonrise Kingdomâ€™s unbounded heart conjures wistful feelings of elementary affection â€” something euphorically charming and universally appealing.
This is why we go to the movies â€” not to journey vicariously through the characters on screen, but to feel something real for ourselves.