Moonrise Kingdom

Words by Nick Hilton.

I’m a bit of a Wes Anderson sceptic. I can feel the self-conscious quirk when other people are busy being charmed by his eccentric surrealism and, consequently, movies like The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic have failed to either make me laugh or swoon. But the trailer for Moonrise Kingdom was so wonderful that I thought the film might, just might, make me change my view on Mr Anderson. And it fills me with enormous, bubbly pleasure to confirm that Moonrise Kingdom is one of the best films of the year and an absolute, unmitigated delight.

That’s not to say that it’s bereft of the twee trademarks of Anderson’s cinema. They’re all there and some people will, undoubtedly, continue to find them incredibly grating. But where, before, Anderson strove hard for the laughs, here he allows the charm of the story and the central romance to wash over his audience, whilst baffling and amusing them with his standard cinematic and narrative tricks. Anderson knows exactly what he’s doing with the structure of the film and it turns out to be a beautifully rendered Americana version of ‘Swallows and Amazons’, complete with psychotic boy scouts, a topless Bill Murray and 2012’s most awkward make-out scene.

At the heart of the film is the young couple that flee their respective guardians in a fit of pre-pubescent passion. Round them the ‘stars’ of the movie rotate, some more effectively than others. Special credit goes to Bruce Willis and Ed Norton who play the policeman and scoutmaster respectively and with wonderful commitment to staying po-faced whilst the increasingly bizarre plot unravels before them. The story, however, belongs to Jared Gilman (a future King of the Hipsters) and Kara Hayward (a young Anne Bancroft) who steal the show as the star crossed lovers desperately camping their way to freedom and, you know, learning life lessons along the way.

Sweet and touching and not nearly half as annoying as most of Wes Anderson’s films. Moonrise Kingdom is a triumph.

Title: Moonrise Kingdom
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring : Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Frances McDormand
Running Time: 93 minutes
Certificate: 12a

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