Flight of fancy a retro delight
No one, but no one, makes movies like Wes Anderson.
From his highly-tuned sense of whimsy to his impeccable style, Anderson’s films are in a genre of their own – dram-kitsch maybe, or lyrical-dramedy.
Whatever you call it, Anderson’s long panoramas, charmingly dysfunctional family dynamics and retro-chic set design are in a hip, heart-warming and utterly addictive class of their own.
His latest, Moonrise Kingdom, distils the essence of Anderson even further.
When rogue “Khaki Scout” and black sheep of the troop, Sam Shakusky (played with awkward sub-Aspergers perfection by Jared Gilman) flies the coop taking “very troubled child” and supernatural adventure fiction-inspired Suzy Bishop (a gorgeously gamine Kara Hayward) with him, it throws the small island community of New Penzance into an uproar.
The moon- crossed lovers are found and separated, but not even the threat of shock therapy and Juvenile Refuge can keep this New England Romeo from his vicious, “lefty scissors” wielding Juliet.
With the help of Sam’s troop, the pair make another break for freedom. Now Social Services (Tilda Swinton), the scouts of Fort Lebanon and Suzy’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) are on their trail. As ever with Anderson, metaphor takes on a life of its own and there’s a storm coming to New Penzance.
It’s up to the island’s grown-ups – a cast of truly inspired cameos and supporting roles – to live up to the title of adult and save Suzy and Sam, and maybe themselves.
Like a succession of outsider-art dioramas, the public and private lives of New Penzance’s quietly mad residents are opened to us to ponder the sometimes topsy-turvy fables played out within.
Random moments echo classic cautionary tales – Suzy and Sam become Peter Pan and Wendy in one scene where she reads to the absconded scouts in their hidden night camp, while Romeo and Juliet is an obvious parallel.
However, this is a comedy and Anderson and Roman Coppola’s script is peppered with charmingly ironic humour that often cuts to the heart of the story.
“I can’t argue with anything you’ve said,” says gruff romantic Captain Sharp ( Bruce Willis) when Sam puts his case for emancipation and true love. “I don’t have to, you’re 12 years old.”
At heart, Moonrise Kingdom is a modern fable, designed to charm, guide and uplift – and it delivers in spades.
Starring Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Bill Murray. Screenplay by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola. Directed by Wes Anderson. 94 minutes, rated M (contains sexual references). Showing at Light House Pauatahanui and Reading Courtenay cinemas. Reviewed by KYLIE KLEIN-NIXON Private universe: Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) must combat a scout troop and an entire quirky town if true love is to win out in Wes Anderson’s charming Moonrise Kingdom.