Film Review: “Moonrise Kingdom”

***1/2OUT OF 4

Director Wes Andersen is known for his quirky, idiosyncratic- perfectly designed films and “Moonrise Kingdom” is no exception to his signature style.  It screened at the Cannes Film Festival 2012, as the opening night film, and it was greeted with respect if not adulation. Next to “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” it is one of Andersen’s most engaging and endearing films and acts as a metaphor for all young people who wish to rebel against the status quo.

The setting is a fictitious island off the New England coast in 1965. The story is a love affair of two precocious 12 year olds who meet at a church function and seem to be made for each another. The boy is Sam (Jared Gillman) and the girl is Suzy (Kara Hayward) and they are “pitch- perfect”. Sam who is skinny and wears thick glasses is an orphan whose foster parents think he is bi-polar and dysfunctional. He is a “slave” to the Boy Scouts led by a cigarette-smoking Scoutmaster (Edward Norton).    Suzy lives in a lighthouse with three younger brothers and two lawyer parents played by Bill Murray and Frances McDormand who are “out of touch” and unable to connect with her needs.

The script which Andersen co-authored with Roman Coppola portrays the adult world with disdain. The police chief (Bruce Willis)leads the search for Sam and Suzy as they run off together into the wilderness while a huge Nor’easter, announced by the delightful narrator,  Bob Balaban,  is bearing down on the island. The star-studded cast even includes Tilda Swinton as a character named Social Services.

The amazing production design comes to us from Adam Stockhausen, the wonderful score from Alexandre Desplat and the precise imagery from DP Robert D. Yeoman. “Moonrise Kingdom” takes us away from our troubled world and focuses us on a simpler, more resonant time when the little things make life worthwhile.

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