Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom

(PG) Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Meryl Streep, George Clooney

When people pay money to see a Wes Anderson film, they are paying for the privilege of curling up inside his elegant head and soaking up the ambience.

As a rule, the inside of Wes Anderson’s head is a rich and wonderful a place to be.

Wes Anderson isn’t just a film maker, he is an artist. I find myself close to purring with pleasure at his gorgeous colour palette, the structured and symmetrical arrangements of his scenes, the revelation of each new character like a magician’s flourish. Even the typography that Anderson chooses (traditionally a bold yellow Futura but for Moonrise Kingdom, a bespoke, hand lettered cursive font) has design nerds like me nodding approvingly.

He is famously obsessive about staying true to the vision in his head and having each detail just so. He is right to do so because it is a luxurious experience for his audience to have absolute faith that nothing gaudy or poorly thought out will disturb us from our swoon of pleasure. Every aspect of his films is agonisingly thought out and realised to perfection.

As a rule, the inside of Wes Anderson’s head is a rich and wonderful a place to be.

Wes Anderson is also famous for his loyalty to a team of creative people he works with on each of his films (Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Anjelica Huston, Jason Schwartzman to name a few). It was at the University of Texas, studying philosophy, where he met Owen Wilson, who became his writing partner and future star of his movies. Later writing partners include Noah Baumbach, Roman Coppola and Jason Schwartzman and actors include Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Alec Baldwin, Edward Norton, George Clooney, Merryl Streep, Michael Gambon, Cate Blanchett and many, many other recognisable and well loved faces.

In a Wes Anderson film, ambiguity and internal struggle take centre stage. Here is loneliness, here is dysfunction and emotional baggage and selfishness and despair but Anderson makes it beautiful and funny and tender.

Moonrise Kingdom is about the love affair of two 12 year olds. While this sounds dubious, potentially wrong, in Anderson’s hands it is sweet and serious. I found myself remembering the intensity of my own feelings as a twelve year old and the frustration I felt that the adult world wouldn’t take my feelings seriously.

As ever, the actual plot of the film is a secondary to the emotional journey of the characters. Rather than build an epic narrative arc, Anderson goes deeper into the characters and builds the story through design and music. He conjures great themes out of domesticity and finds beauty and elegance in the mundane.

His characters are damaged, funny, sad, thoughtful and quite often misguided but always sympathetic. Like the films they live in, they are oddities, but gentle, orginal and loveable oddities.

If Anderson’s introspection and idiosyncratic aesthetic has irked you in the past, do not go see this film. It will make you cross and you will distress people like me who want to find a way to live permanently inside Anderson’s vision of the world. This film is a continuation of the classic Anderson style, concerns and structure and for those who have wandered inside Anderson’s head before, Moonrise Kingdom will provide a magical, warm and safe respite from the dreary burdens of reality.

Amy Goodhew


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