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Thursday, June 28, 2012

"Moonrise Kingdom", teenage dreams

Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson is back! Sorry if I don't hide my enthusiasm, but cinema is not giving me many chances to enjoy/get moved lately, and after the quite unremarkable "Fantastic Mr.Fox" (another director trying to jump into the animation bandwagon), watching "Moonrise Kingdom" it's a formidable way to ingratiate oneself with movies again. Besides, you cant count me as an Anderson's fan.

Having said that, "Moonrise Kingdom" is another "turn of the screw" on the usual themes of Anderson's films: family, parenthood, the difficulties of communication, the things left unsaid, nostalgia, all packed, surrounded, by his particular visual style, music and very peculiar sense of humour (offbeat, quirky, deadpan, and I admit, not for everyone).

Yet in this occasion, Anderson decides to tell his recurrent story under a new perspective: and adventure film where kids lead the path. On one side, that choice is refreshing as it allows the director to almost create a parallel world on the remote North Eastern coastal community, where his style and visual talent shines. In terms of style, it might be his most remarkable work (well, my heart is still with the surreal universe of "The Life Aquatic"). Haunting.

But on the other side, and maybe not so positive, is that with Anderson putting the weight of the film on a couple of young teenagers, Sam and Suzy, that run away together, there's not a lot of space for the adults, and the story development, at least superficially, is just that adventuresque, hide & seek tale.

It wouldn't be fair to say the film is not compelling or emotional, though. Anderson is proposing (again) a tale where the responsible adults, from the Scout Master Ward that has to take care of Sam, to Suzy's parents, or the authorities, are incapable of behaving like they are supposed to. Worse than that: in their crazy search of the couple, they reveal themselves as a disillusioned, appalled by life's disappointments cast. Anderson isn't shy to confront their frustrations against the hope and vitality of the kids. In "Moonrise Kingdom" youth against age, illusion against cynicism, love against misery, are the opposing worlds. 

So, yes, there are wounds and desolation among the adults, but the overall tone of the film is lightweight. Which is something a bit sad considering the impressive cast: Edward Norton (his role had an incredible potential that is missed), Bill Murray, the great Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis (maybe the only one that is able to develop, good work by Willis), and in very small roles, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton and Harvey Keitel. Anderson could have taken more profit from their characters. Maybe is just that I find the adults' conflicts way more intereting, which are constrained/limited under this strcuture. 

But it wouldn't make much sense to keep complaining, because the focus on the kids has been a conscious decision by Anderson. And in doing so he has provided us, again, with a bunch of unforgettable moments. One in particular, the dance of the kids on that intimate beach, where they feel the first beats of romantic love, is wonderful. Praise Kara Hayward (Suzy, what a magnetic look she has, what a presence) and Jared Gilman for carrying the film in their shoulders with brilliance. "Moonrise Kingdom" opts for optimism (not exactly a comedy, though) and hope. If it's done with such grace and talent, it's nice to go for the smile then. A film to enjoy cinema.

SCORE: 7/10

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