Manuel Betancourt

Moonrise Kingdom, or How Anderson’s twee-love story is gorgeous and affecting

January 28, 2013 · in Film, Oscars

Moonrise Kingdom
Directed by Wes Anderson
Written by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Starring Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Edward Norton & Bob Balaban.

Oscar Nominations: 1
Best Original Screenplay

The scene: A beach on the New England coast. A portable record player blares a fittingly titled song “Les Temps de l’Amour.” A boy and a girl, both in their underwear, begin awkwardly yet endearingly dancing to this playful tune. Deciding to slow dance, they turn to each other and kiss primly on the lips. This escalates to fumbling french kisses, over-the-bra touching and ends with the two laying side by side on a makeshift Khaki Scout tent.

This scene epitomizes the mix of child-like wonder and burgeoning teen desire that permeates the film. Aesthetically, Anderson uses his knack for making the world into a primrose-colored tableau-vivant to envelop the romance between introvert Sam (Gilman) and Suzy (Hayward) with a hint of fantasy. Sam and Suzy’s romantic escapade throws into relief the very infantile adult world around them which includes an unhappy marriage, an illicit affair and a bumbling scout leader. That Sam and Suzy are never reduced to the grating precociousness of cinema kids is both a testament to Anderson’s smart script and his nuanced child actors. Despite its jejune art direction — which aims for a storybook feel — Anderson’s film never stoops to the condescension that is usually directed at these coming-of-age protagonists. That it is the adults who find themselves entangled in juvenile antics yet committed to the responsibilities of their age deepen Anderson’s wistful look at Sam and Suzy’s epistolary (and later runaway) love story. Filled throughout with Anderson’s signature droll humour and visual flair, Moonrise Kingdom is a lovely film about the joys of love and the heartbreak of growing up. A