Youth, memory, imagination and of course love now playing at The Grand Cinema.
Wes Anderson’s latest movie, “Moonrise Kingdom”, falls right into line with his previous works with meticulously planned settings, plot, emotions and literally everything else. It may have begun as a compulsion to control every aspect of a movie, and at least since Royal Tenenbaums (2001) I’ve come to treasure his micro-managed creations. In fact, I’d likely revolt if the calculating of every detail was subdued for the trifle benefit of Mr. Anderson’s mental health. Thankfully his continued legacy of obsessing has left us with this wonderful story.
Stars populate the cast of Moonrise Kingdom, but most of the movie follows child actors and Anderson manages carefully their work and this creates mostly rigid dialogue between the children, but somehow it has the outcome of seeming more potent this way. The bonds amongst and the battles between the kids are what draws us into connection with this movie. Luminaries such as Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Edward Norton shine brightly in scenes, but it’s the kids who earn our hearts with their earnest.
More than anything, this movie is constructed around a theme of love that obliterates all concepts of age. The plot centers on the relationship between a young boy, Sam, and a young girl, Suzie, played astonishingly by first-time movie actors, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. Both are polite yet fiery and violent children who connect because they share an unbridled intensity of emotions that most of us have been taught to suppress. Vicariously, we follow them on their adventure on the New England island and regardless of their age, we find ourselves wanting to understand them as intimately as the two of them understand each other.
We too often rationalize childhood love in terms of juvenile crushes or puppy love, but I most definitely remember being in love at a young age. Childhood is ripe with raw feeling and sensory novelty, and as kids we have yet to classify and judge everything as known. Like Sam and Suzie, my first taste of love was pleasantly disorienting but it was also influential. In Moonrise Kingdom, childhood love is portrayed as impactful as any love between two adults, but it glows with a vividness that only exists from childhood.
Moonrise Kingdom is expertly crafted to help viewers of any age revisit childhood and make real this defining period of our lives. Anderson details family homes and family dynamics. He also brings back his neat cinematic trick of moving scenes through cross-sections of sets such as a family home or a church theater along with abundant simultaneous action from a multitude of characters in separate rooms. It affects a childlike sensation that there are always more spaces, things and people to explore.
Outdoor landscapes are rich and colorful lending the best chromatic shades to the images of youth. Geography is always present too as scene interludes show traveling maps and guides to the island where the movie takes place making the scenes feel like panels in a comic book. The final touch was to place this movie in a representation of the 1960s that should capture anyone’s sense of innocence.
In Moonrise Kingdom we get to relive the best of our youth, and as usual we owe Wes Anderson our thanks for every painstaking detail.