Quick Opinion: Wes Anderson’s unique approach to writing and directing has created a style of filmmaking that is unmistakably his own. With 2012’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” we get another inspired film that fits nicely into his filmography. Offbeat characters and witty dialogue drive this story of two young, runaway misfits on a remote island in New England. With “Moonrise Kingdom,” Anderson has mastered his style of storytelling by fully utilizing his usual top-notch cast of stars and a cinematography style like no other.
Although “Moonrise Kingdom” feels like more of the same in terms of what Anderson has delivered in the past, this film actually comes across much lighter in tone compared to some of his earlier work.
Taking a Closer Look: The film centers around Sam, a disengaged Khaki Scout, and Suzy, the lonely, overlooked member of her family. The two of them escape into the wilderness to separate themselves from a world in which they feel they don't belong. Their innocence and ignorance provides them with likable underdog roles as they try to outrun the search parties sent out to find them. The young and inexperienced actors do well with most of Anderson’s dialogue, but at times, their dry deliveries feel overused and a bit forced.
It's the adults of the story who really shine with the Anderson and Roman Coppola script. Each character brings a distinctive personality that lends itself nicely to an eccentric plot. Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray and Edward Norton all play characters with glaring insecurities and faults. It's these traits that bring out the humor in the story. It’s hard not to laugh at a randomly drunk Bill Murray going out to chop down a tree for no reason. Eventually, you come to feel a sense of pity for each of them as they struggle to deal with their lives.
No matter what you think of a Wes Anderson film in regard to story or characters, you can always rely on the cinematography itself to keep you entertained. Much like his previous films, Anderson uses bright colors and beautiful lighting to highlight his spectacular set pieces and scenery. He likes to keep everything right in front of the camera in a symmetrical fashion. You won't see many tricky camera angles. Everything flows easily in front of the screen, creating a flat composition.
Standout Scene: There's a terrific walk through of the Khaki Scout camp early in the film, led by Edward Norton. Making his first appearance in a Wes Anderson film, Norton plays the well-intentioned, yet dim-witted Scoutmaster Ward. Norton’s comedic timing is perfect as the camera pans from left to right, showcasing the various mishaps taking place at the camp; this includes his Khaki Scouts building a treehouse at the very top of a towering tree. This scene is a great display of Anderson’s signature cinematography style blended perfectly with his dry sense of humor.
You can stream “Moonrise Kingdom” on Netflix.