Review: Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Directed by: Wes Anderson
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis

Without hesitation, I can assure you that Wes Anderson ranks comfortably among my favorite contemporary auteurs, and the man’s nothing short of a genius in the plainest sense of the word. As another fully realized, wonderfully fantastical and surprisingly perceptive chunk of his imagination, Moonrise Kingdom fits the bill and then some, proving that Anderson and his increasingly singular brand of filmmaking are truly here to stay.

Focusing on the lives of the inhabitants of the fictional New Penzance Island off the coast of New England, more specifically the young love that blossoms between the troubled young Sam and Suzy (the delightful Jared Gilman & Kara Hayward), the film’s script sports literally everything characteristic of the auteur’s past productions and more, assuring us that while Anderson is indeed very one-note, his the ability to craft indelibly imaginative stories is unrivaled to say the least. Examining the subject of disadvantaged adolescence in relation to the harsh realities of being the odd man or woman out, words can’t describe how alternately hilarious and heartfelt the entire production is from start to finish.

Cookie-cutter yet oddly dynamic characters, predictably lavish set pieces, stunning locales to coincide with them and ceaselessly involving occurrences permeate every second of Moonrise Kingdom, quirkily touching upon the basic themes it openly embraces while priding itself more on its storytelling abilities than excessive depth. In other words, it’s Anderson’s attention to detail that elevates his latest well above standard, overtly indie forays into similar territory, never once ceasing to amaze us as something as simple as Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) going through his daily morning routine remains more intricate than any of Adam Sandler’s last half-dozen go-’rounds in their entirety.

Slightly jarring tonal shifts and Anderson’s trademark brand of humor ensure that Moonrise Kingdom won’t garner any new fans of the auteur, however it does remain a bit more accessible in terms of subject matter and just plain beautiful both inside and out. With an appropriate tearjerker of a final act proving to be one of the best series of events I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing play out onscreen, it’s hard not to acknowledge this mildly under seen gem as something special through and through. I knew I’d greatly anticipated this for reasons other than my undying love for the man at its helm, and thankfully, it was most certainly worth the wait.


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