This is my first time to do this, so I don’t want to call it a review. That is for grown-ups. This is my response to film about first love and being a little different. I had never been to Austin’s iconic Alamo Drafthouse. I rushed in without planning ahead or reading reviews, like a kid running in for her favorite candy.
I’ve always liked Wes Anderson’s movies since Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, and on through others like The Royal Tennenbaums, Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Express, and Fantastic Mr. Fox. If you liked any of those, you’ll find yourself in familiar territory here in Moonrise Kingdom and you should proceed to your theater downtown, or come to Austin and have a beer and some movie-themed food at the Drafthouse while you watch the magic unfold on the screen.
In 1965 in a magical place called Penzance, but which is actually Naragansett, Rhode Island, and feels like the island in The Tempest, there is a storm brewing and a gnomish narrator. Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) meet at a school play about Noah’s Ark and fall in love, for the first time in their adolescent lives.
We see Suzy and her family as though they live in a dollhouse, everyone in their separate rooms, our field of vision kind of flat. Bill Murray, Mr. Bishop, doesn’t have much of a clue about anything. Mrs. Bishop, Mom, played by Frances McDormand, calls the kids through a bullhorn. I felt sad about that. I thought about how we text and email our family members, sometimes more than we sit down at a table with them. The kids listen to Benjamin Britten’s Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra” on the portable record player. The story then unfolds like a Young Person’s Guide to Life.
Suzy looks fresh out of an American Apparel ad with her blue eyeshadow, white knee socks and saddles.
She reads a lot of what is now called Young Adult fiction. She feels familiar too, like Gwyneth Paltrow in The Royal Tennenbaums. Suzy has anger issues.
Sam, an orphan, wears a coonskin cap like Max in Where the Wild Things Are.
He is at scout camp with a requisite bully and an earnest camp leader played by Edward Norton. The production design by Adam Stockhausen is brilliantly layered here too with classic scout tents and picnic tables arranged neatly in rows, then flattened by the camera, to become more like a postcard than a setting. Everything runs in straight lines. I thought about how boys become men who become organizations, in training grounds like these. What’s a boy to do if he doesn’t fit in? Sam has abandonment issues.
Sam fetches Suzy and they tromp away to set up a beach camp which they name Moonrise Kingdom. She is beautiful to him with her make-up and anger and fantasy books. He says, “Poems don't always have to rhyme, you know. They're just supposed to be creative.” The stitches in my heart cracked open a little on that one. She admires the manly way he smokes a corn cob pipe and just knows how to DO STUFF. Yikes, I thought my purple high school crush was going to leak out of my stretched heart seams.
The adults are not happy about the elopement of our “troubled” heroes. The chase is on. They call the island’s cop played by Bruce Willis, played so subtle and tender I wanted to hug him. When it turns out Sam’s foster parents don’t want him, uh oh, they call Social Services, played by Tilda Swinton in her hard little blue hat, played so hard and clean, I did not want to hug her. She doesn’t have a name. They never do. Watching her, I thought of Roald Dahl’s awful adults.
The Grown ups
The kids rule here in this movie.
The story did unfold like a symphony, and read like a Young Adult book. I’m glad I ran in like a kid, unprepared and eager for the next thing. You’ll have to go see it to find out what happens in the end.
Grown-ups are allowed if they leave their baggage at the door. Take your Dad or take your inner kid.You'll both come out younger.
© 2012 Pandora S. Bach
Images retrieved from Google Images