What I’ve Been Watching: Moonrise Kingdom

Plot Synopsis:

Girl meets boy (or raven)

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Girl and boy go missing. Time for a man hunt…

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Girl and boy try and escape.

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Rain! Thunder! Lightning!

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Adults do their jobs (for better or worse).

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A Modern Day Fable

Stylish, visually compelling and full of heart; in many ways Moonrise Kingdom represents what’s best about Wes Anderson movies while still containing some of what can make them a bit static.

Most of Anderson’s films play out like modern day fables with issues such as sibling rivalry (Royal Tennenbaums, Darjeeling Limited) or feelings of inadequacy (The Life Aquatic, Fantastic Mr. Fox) immerging again and again.

On its own terms Moonrise Kingdom is an undeniable triumph. It’s main characters are children, which for me makes the portentousness Anderson’s protagonists are known for much easier to stomach; it is for the same reason Rushmore is my favourite of his films to date.

Pretty much very single frame of Anderson’s film looks like a beautiful painting, which is why I felt compelled to do a plot summary (of sorts) using just his stills. Literally everything you see on screen feels like it’s meticulously planned and detailed; and makes the whole film a triumph of imagination and elegance.

If there’s one criticism, which could be applied to a lot of directors of this generation (Tarantino, the Coens, Baumbach, Rian Johnson), it’s that he seems to favour visual depth to that of his characters. As such, few of the film’s players move much beyond that of characiture.

Compare this to directors of the previous generation (Ford Coppolla, Scorcese, Allen, Cassavetes). They created far more rich and three-dimensional characters such as Travis Bickle or Michael Corleon. My concern is that with Moonrise Kingdom Anderson has blown his hand. Is this all he can give us? Or can he create a just as visually interesting film with a genuinely complex character?

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