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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Thanks to two appealing juvenile leads, Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" succeeds in engaging and sometimes moving us. Set in coastal New England in 1965, it is about two misfit thirteen-year-olds who fall in love (each, it seems, intuiting the other's "misfittedness") and decide to run away together and set up a home/camp where they can live isolated from the world of their parents and other adult authorities. Since the boy, Sam, has survival skills (he runs away from a scout camp) and the girl, Suzy, is as resourceful in her way (she brings the scissors and other things), they do pretty well. Suzy's parents are two lawyers (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) who seem as indifferent to each other as they are to their children, and their marital conversation is mainly about the cases they're working on. The fact that the mother communicates with her children via bullhorn is obviously both funny and pointed. Sam is an orphan in foster care, and Edward Norton is the well-meaning scoutmaster of Sam's troop. These three adults and the local sheriff (Bruce Willis) are the ones who have to deal with the fact that the young people have run off.

All of that seems ordinary enough, but Anderson frames the story in interesting ways, both visually and dramaturgically. The adult world of the scout camp and Suzy's home is presented in terms of a high degree of linear organization: rooms are boxy and behaviour is regimented to a cartoonish extent, and the regimentation of the scout troop is very clear, and the impression that the viewer gets is of two young people trying to get away from life in a cartoon and escape into something more authentic. The parents and scoutmaster are emotionally incompetent to a comic degree, and the only adult who seems to have an inkling of the kind of freer life the young people want is the sheriff, who in a climactic scene faces down Social Services. Tilda Swindon literally calls herself "Social Services" and that tells us all we need to know about the "flattening" of most of the adult figures in the movie. Swindon is marvelous in the role, and Bruce Willis as her antagonist gives a performance of great charm. Bill Murray here has a role that fits well with his usual deadpan affectless schtick, but he remains, for me at least, a very limited actor. In the course of the movie most of the adults unfreeze to some extent. McDormand, who is presented as being drawn to the sheriff, has a touching scene with her daughter at the end.

Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward are Sam and Suzy. Neither actually says "There must be more to life than this" as they view the adult world, but the seriousness with which they take both their escape (very carefully planned) and their affection is both funny and endearing. They are trying to act as the kind of adults that they want to be -- not the kinds of adults who have shaped their lives thus far. The deadpan seriousness with which they take all this is funny -- they even go through a form of marriage and unembarassedly acknowledge their sexual feelings, which seem to them to have nothing to do with their love, which has more to do with their mutual recognition as misfits. The young actors pull off Anderson's conceptions of their characters just about perfectly. One way of understanding them, I think, is to say that they want a narrative, and it's no accident that Suzy takes half-a-dozen storybooks along on the escape, and we see her read aloud from them on several occasions. This perhaps clues us to the idea that adult life in the movie has stopped -- it has no ongoing story, at least as far as the young people can perceive, and no story means no future, so they decide to create their own. Maybe with the onset of adolescence we all do this -- adolescent "rebellion" is a bit of a cliche, but here Anderson manages to find a fresh way of representing it. Maybe too the allusions to Britten's children's opera "Noyes Flood" (based on a medieval drama about Noah) are deployed to suggest this: the flood (looked at in one way) is a chance for a new start, and it is seeing Suzy dressed for the part of a raven in a local performance of the opera that wins Sam's heart, so to speak. The movie ends after its own flood (a hurricane), and if Bob Balaban, the narrator who frames the whole story, is to be believed, it ushers in a sense of renewal that extends even to the crops in subsequent years. With that suggestion, Anderson reminds us of the apparent natural magic of renewal, not only in the natural cycle but in the revelations that can follow crises in narratives. (To put it like that sounds heavy-handed, but the movie itself avoids the portentousness that thematic analysis is prone to fall into!)

I'll avoid spoilers, and say nothing about the fact that there are really two escapes, the details of the storm, the scout troop's pursuit of the runaways, or the sheriff's defense of Sam. It's a comic movie, finally, and it clocks in at just about 90 minutes, so it doesn't drag. The degree of stylization with which the adult world is presented keeps us at the distance required to appreciate both the pains of growing up, the dangers of having grown up, and the need to keep open the possibility of change and (if we're lucky) growth.
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on 13 February 2014
To be honest, I really did not know what to make of this film after the first watching.
I enjoyed it, but didn't find it that funny!!!!
The performances from the leads - Willis, Norton, Swinton and Murray are rather sublime but it's the strangely enigmatic acting from the 'young newbies' Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward that steal the show as two pubescent children taking comfort and solace in each others company as they escape the strangeness of their lives. Pursued by their respective so-called "responsible adults", (that's the funny bit, I suppose?), they desperately try to find consolation in an effort to make some sense out of their muddled lives.
I had to watch it three times before I could come to a conclusion - it is a good film; in my opinion a very thought provoking one.
Perhaps I took it too seriously? However, I found it hard not too!
Good film - not what I expected, but I think I got much more out of it because of this.
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on 2 June 2014
Bought this to watch with my grandchildren (10 and 12 years old) during their half term holidays. We all loved it and it kept our attention all the way through. A lovely and engrossing film which I would thoroughly recommend.
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on 24 April 2014
This is a great film and typical of Wes Anderson's usual style and humour so if you like his movies, you wont be disappointed! There's a great adult cast who hold the whole thing together but the child actors do a great job in the two lead roles too. The story is relatively simple, but if you're looking for a good laugh and some odd humour then you'll enjoy this!
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on 17 February 2013
I only came upon this film by chance and wow what a surprise it was breathtaking. From opening credits to end credits we sat amazed by the stunning visual feast and the story was pretty cool too. I have since shared this film with a number of people who have all had the same reaction it's awesome see it people and wonder at why the crap that makes money in the big screens s nowhere near as good as this lost gem.
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on 11 October 2012
I had been waiting and waiting with anticipation for this to come out on DVD after seeing it at the cinema three times. I can honestly say, hands down, it is Wes Anderson's best film to date. The cinematography is an absolute visual feast that leaves me arranging things in nice straight lines for hours after watching the film, plus these are most talented and loveable child actors I've ever seen (in fact the adult cast is also equally as exciting) and the story has me laughing and crying throughout every time. I just cannot express enough love for this film... and you can see the love that went into making it. It's just artistically awe inspiring and gets the perfect balance of blockbuster and art house influence... makes me want to be a child again. JUST WATCH IT IT'S AMAZING PLEASE!!!!!
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on 8 May 2015
In 2012 there were two films that absolutely charmed the socks off me. One was Beasts of the Southern Wild; the other was Moonrise Kingdom. Now normally, I'm not a big Wes Anderson fan. The only other Anderson film that I thought worth having in my library is Fantastic Mr. Fox. Even the recent Grand Budapest Hotel--for all its spectacular design and artistry--just didn't get to me. But Moonrise Kingdom is such a terrific time trip back to 1965--every detail perfect, in its depiction of a summer holiday island. Moreover, its whimsical and ravishing depiction of very young love--and the huge risks one takes for it--is spot on. The romance of Sam and Suzy is a wonderful portrait of the first clumsy, dazzling infatuation with the opposite sex. Their escape to live in the woods together is classic. And Anderson's cast? To die for! Murray, McDormand, Swinton, Norton, Willis, Keitel, Schwartzman, Balaban, et al. If you love romantic comedy, as I do, you have to have Moonrise Kingdom. One technical caveat, though. Most of the transfer is visually mediocre--not Blu Ray-sharp quality, but ordinary DVD visual quality. Disappointing.
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on 15 October 2012
Great cast..beautifully shot. Touching , clever ,homorous..what's not to like? Really good acting from the children and its the first film (sorry to announce)where I have actually warmed to ed norton. Buy it
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on 17 May 2013
3 stars is enough. Maybe because I have enough with Wes Anderson, which doesn't mean I don't enjoy his movies or don't appreciate his style anymore, just that I'm kind of fed up with it, because it doesn't take you anywhere, it always goes around in circles, and it really doesn't tell you anything deeper about life or his point of view about life.
It's just nice furniture and wallpaper. Nice to take a look to one time, but not so necesssary that you want to watch it again.
Unfortunately, Wes Anderson world is a dolls house, and, apart from The Royal Tenenbaum, where story and characters still had an inner world and some living drama, here, as also in most of his last films, all you see it is just a mere and superficial repetition of that film schemes and patterns.
You will have fun and sometimes smile, and I hope you'll enjoy the film should you want to buy it: but if you don't, maybe if could be a useful warning to Wes: "grow up or you will only remembered for your look, but not for your feel"
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on 17 May 2013
I think that 3 stars is about right for me on this movie. It was one of those rare and strange films where, on getting to the end of it, I honestly couldn't decide if I had enjoyed watching it or not! I have not seen a Wes Anderson film before so, without a doubt, I probably didn't understand it. I couldn't decide what it wanted to be. It seemed primarily to want to be a comedy and there were bits of it that made me laugh BUT also vast stretches of it that didn't. I soon realised that it was pointless expecting any explanations or answers or even any kind of motivation - its not that kind of movie. Its a series of loosely related scenes strung together, written and filmed and acted in a 'quirky' fashion. Within those limitations then, there are good performances from most of the child actors, especially the understated Kara Hayward, and also from Ed Norton and Bruce Willis. Tilda Swinton had an excellent and very amusing first scene as Social Services - her later appearance was a little more forced and less convincing.

The style of the movie is individual and fits the 'quirky' brief, likewise the camera work. The subject matter is interesting and often controversial. Personally I didn't find it 'sweet' or 'cute' but nor did I find it offensive - I think its a pretty valid take on young 'love' at that age. There are some violent acts here too but the overall surreal air to the film tends to mute these although I must admit that I didn't really understand the need to kill the dog - the one really unnecessary thing (to me) in the film. There doesn't seem to be much character development - arguably Sharp and Sam seen a little happier at the end of the film and Ward has a renewed confidence (and maybe a girlfriend). I'm not convinced things are really any better at Suzy's home but, again, I don't suppose character development is really the point of a film like this.

So, I didn't love it but I didn't hate it either. I doubt if I'll watch it again and I can't say that I'm in a hurry to watch other Wes Anderson films. Oh - it did have a very good soundtrack, especially all the Benjamin Britten - one thing I WILL do soon is listen to a recording of Noye's Fludde!
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