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A TYPICAL Wes Anderson production is the movies’ equivalent of a ship in a bottle. You have no option but to marvel at the intricate design of the self- enclosed world laid out before you.
While Moonrise Kingdom does not radically break rank from Anderson’s best- known works ( Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and the stop- motion animation classic The Fantastic Mr Fox ), it marks a significant expansion of the allround talents of a truly gifted filmmaker.
The year is 1965, on a remote American island known as New Penzance.
Two precocious 12- year- old pen pals have run away together.
They may not ultimately get very far. Nevertheless, young Sam ( Jared Gilman) and Suzy ( Kara Hayward) have roused the full attention, anger and concern of all who reside on New Penzance.
While this would- be Romeo and Juliet naively try to live off the land while remaining on the lam, multiple search parties fan out across the island.
One is spearheaded by a bumbling, chain- smoking scout leader ( Edward Norton). Another is acting on the say- so of the only cop in the area ( a wonderful Bruce Willis).
As Sam is an orphan, the authorities ( represented by Tilda Swinton) want him found and institutionalised.
As Suzy has always been a problem child, her parents ( Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) want her found and grounded for life.
This scrappy and rather absurd chase scenario is not to be taken lightly, and cannot be rejected out of hand.
There are wise emotional truths, and beautifully rendered tinges of humour and sorrow expertly woven through a tightlythreaded screenplay.
Every visible element of Anderson’s new film is micro- managed with manic precision.
A random selection of any 100 frames from Moonrise Kingdom could effortlessly be re- purposed as a gallery exhibition, such is the refined stylistic sensibility on display.
However, where past Anderson works were happy enough to have viewers sit back and admire the experience, Moonrise Kingdom invites everyone to lean forward and get involved.
Most will happily accept, and be truly enraptured by what unfolds.
FOLLOW THE LEADER: Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman and Jason Schwartzman in the comedy- drama Moonrise Kingdom.