Wednesday 5 September 2012

Review: Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

"It's not enough." -- Walt Bishop (Bill Murray)

Filmmaker Wes Anderson knows quirky, and pushes it to the limit with Moonrise Kingdom. Accessible in a way that Cosmopolis isn't, Moonrise follows the 1965 antics of loveable oddballs on a quaint east coast island. 

Discontent with his lot in life, young Sam goes AWOL from Scout Camp and runs away with his female counterpart (Suzy) to frolic in the wilderness. A bemused search by ostensible adults ensues, and everyone strives to escape the emotional prisons they've constructed.

Anderson employs one point perspective throughout the film, virtually every shot, and it's absolutely striking. The characters seem to be flitting across super realist Christopher Pratt paintings. Stanley Kubrick used the same technique in several films (see example video here), but never quite to this obsessive compulsive degree. 

The art direction is the tightest I've ever seen. Every colour choice has been carefully considered, every shot precisely composed, every object placed just so. The excessive stylization is initially endearing, but becomes distracting as the film goes on. Narrative must compete with ostentatious style for attention.

The Darjeeling Limited, The Royal Tenebaums, and Rushmore were all funny ha-ha. The Fantastic Mr. Fox mildly so (but so breathtakingly beautiful it didn't matter). Moonrise is just exceedingly quirky. While the framework and staging are wonderful, the content seems lacking. Anderson tips too far into style over substance.

Even so, a gentle sense of understanding permeates the film. Empathy for the plight of the myriad characters comes through powerfully, even as the artificiality of the direction keeps them at a distance. This is not a malicious filmmaker. 

As Sam Shakusky and Suzy Hayward, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward hold their own with their far more experienced elders. Bill Murray seems half asleep, but can do what he likes. 

He's Bill Murray. 

As for Anderson, he's undeniably innovative. A pioneer deploying the most distinct voice in Hollywood today, even more so than Quentin Tarantino. Quite an accomplishment in an industry where 'different' can be a four letter word. When you see an Anderson film, you know you're in for an experience, and one you will not soon forget. His movies stick with you. Larger than life, dream like. Iconic lines and striking compositions settle comfortably into your memory. Even flawed, his movies remain must see cinema.
He's willing to experiment, take chances, and push the boundaries in directions no one else even considered. 

Kitsch or genius? 

You decide.

1 comment:

  1. It's doubtful this will win over any outright Anderson sceptics, but ... this is an exciting reaffirmation of talent.