download Moonrise Kingdom, I love entering Wes Anderson's world. It certainly is another one, and it's unlike any other. If there's such a thing as Hipster Cinema then Anderson is its Intelligent Designer, and thus far the only filmmaker who's elevated the subgenre's mix of quirky ennui, comic existentialism, and classic folk/rock soundtracks to a true art form. Moonrise Kingdom is indeed just that-a work of art, as much as any film Anderson's made.
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Even as some detractors find his particular aesthetic insufferably precious, Anderson seems to confidently (even defiantly) double-down on his auterism with each new outing. His films are statically-framed, have hyper-real characters, self-consciously clever dialogue, are crafted with a precision that borders on obsessive, and are often art-directed to within an inch of their lives. Anderson's critics derisively refer to that style as "twee" (i.e. something that is sweet, almost to the point of being sickeningly so), but kindred spirits like myself call it something else: magical.
Set in rural oceanfront Rhode Island circa 1965, Moonrise Kingdom is a story of first love. The star-crossed outsiders are two young teenagers, dorky scouting expert Sam Shakusky (no doubt a semi-autobiographical Anderson archetype) and the beautiful but angsty introvert Suzy Bishop (no doubt Anderson's dream girl at that age). Sam is a literal orphan in foster care. Suzy is an emotional orphan within her own well-to-do family. They're from two different worlds yet share the same loneliness. The first time they find connection is when they find each other.
That connection, which has grown in secret, leads to the dramatic decision to run away together. This ends up fueling the core of the film's narrative, both for Sam and Suzy's relationship as well as the efforts of the search parties-Suzy's parents, the Island Police Captain, and Sam's troop and scout leader.
Played by newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, these pen-pals turned runaways instantly hold a special place in the pantheon of coming-of-age stories. Sam and Suzy are simultaneously confident and awkward, certain of who they are while uncertain of how they fit into the world. Sam's quirks are particularly endearing; his Type-A nerdiness makes him a superior scout (he can pitch an impressive campsite while also taking inventory of all resources) who also spouts completely pointless survival skills ("Throw pine needles into the air to see which way the wind is blowing" or " Watch out for turtles. They'll bite you if you put your finger in their mouths."). Suzy is a more familiar type (the disaffected teenager), but no less compelling or complex.
download Moonrise Kingdom, It's not just an emotional awakening but also a sexual one (albeit awkward). While they don't go so far as to have sex, their time together in the woods does include exploration: kissing, touching each other, laying in the same sleeping bag, and so on. Admittedly I felt awkward watching it (which is the point), but these scenes-which do involve the young actors being in their underwear-are, while honest, probably too honest for younger viewers who are still as confused as the characters we're watching. Regardless of how you take those moments yourself (they went a bit farther than I'm comfortable with), your heart goes out to them because there was a time when you struggled with the same feelings.