Sunday, August 7, 2016

#2,166. Moonrise Kingdom (2012) - The Films of Wes Anderson

Directed By: Wes Anderson

Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis

Tag line: "A tormenting and surprising story of children and adults during the stormy days of the summer of 1965"

Trivia: After filming was completed, Kara Hayward got to keep the kitten owned in the film by her character Suzy

Though they were comedies, Wes Anderson’s early films centered on sad characters dealing with a variety of issues, including family discord (The Royal Tenenbaums), fading glory (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), and the death of a parent (The Darjeeling Limited). These movies made us laugh, even if the characters within weren’t themselves in a laughing mood.

Set in a world much like the ones created for those earlier films - and with a style that is reminiscent of them - Anderson injects a glimmer of hope in his 2012 effort Moonrise Kingdom by focusing on young love, and featuring two individuals every bit as wounded as many of the director's previous characters, but who have found solace in each other’s company.

The year is 1965, and all hell has broken loose on the normally peaceful island of New Penzance. Suzy (Kara Hayward), the 12-year-old daughter of attorneys Mr. and Mrs. Bishop (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), has run away from home.

She is accompanied by Sam (Jared Gilman), a Khaki Scout whose troop is headquartered on the other side of the island.

The Bishops, along with local policeman Captain Sharp (Brice Willis) and Khaki Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), organize a search party to track down the runaways. But what they don’t know is that Suzy and Sam are deeply in love, and plan to spend the rest of their lives together.

As the hours drag on, Sam and Suzy continue to elude capture, and with a major storm on the way, the search party has no alternative but to double its efforts. Will they rein in the star-crossed youngsters, or will true love win out in the end?

Moonrise Kingdom isn’t without its sad sacks. Suzy’s parents are successful attorneys, yet their marriage is on the brink of ruin. Mrs. Bishop is having an affair with Captain Sharp, the island’s lone policeman, who is an otherwise very lonely man.

Edward Norton’s Khaki Scout Master begins strong enough, but quickly loses confidence when Sam resigns from the troop and runs away. Later, the Scout Master will suffer an even greater loss, one that threatens his career with the Khaki scouts.

Each actor successfully conveys the deep sorrow that plagues their character, garnering our sympathy even as we’re giggling at their antics.

Yet it’s Sam and Suzy who are the saddest of them all. Suzy not only knows of her mother’s infidelity, but at one point also finds a pamphlet on top of the family refrigerator titled “Coping with the Very Troubled Child”, which her parents obtained in an effort to understand their daughter.

As for Sam, he’s an orphan whose mom and dad died years earlier. What’s more, he’s managed to alienate the Billingsleys, his foster parents, who decide not to invite him back home, forcing Social Services (Tilda Swinton) to get involved. Also, Sam’s fellow Khaki scouts are less than friendly towards him (when searching for Sam on the island, each one has brought a weapon along).

Fortunately, Suzy and Sam now have each other. After meeting the summer before at a school pageant, they began a year-long pen-pal correspondence, during which they fell in love and planned their "escape". The authority figures will attempt to break them up, but to no avail. Suzy and Sam have found each other, and the happiness that has eluded them in the other areas of their lives. They have no intention of letting it go. Both Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman do an outstanding job conveying the clumsiness, uncertainty, and magic of young love, and even as those around them do their best to keep the two apart, we know Sam and Suzy will probably be together forever.

The location of Penzance also plays an important role in the story (the movie was shot in Rhode Island), and, as an isle, is symbolic of its character’s feelings of isolation. Also entertaining throughout Moonrise Kingdom is Bob Balaban, who acts as the film's host and narrator, filling us in on matters outside the story (the history of New Penzance, the upcoming storm, etc). All of these elements, plus the amazing score by Alexandre Desplat, work in unison to create a “Wes Anderson world”, a place situated outside of everyday reality, but only just.

And it’s Sam and Suzy who make it feel like a nice place to visit.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

what a wonderful movie