With a cast consisting of Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Jason Schwartzman, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Harvey Keitel, it is difficult to fathom that two, fairly unknown child actors could have stolen the show. This brilliant cast proves what it means to be supporting in Wes Anderson’s latest film, Moonrise Kingdom. A love story between two young children, the film is filled with crazy, flawed characters and the spirit of youth.
The story begins when two children, Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), run away together. After meeting randomly at a play, Suzy and Sam became pen pals for a year before hatching their escape plan. Sam runs away from his Khaki Scout campsite (very similar to a boy scout camp), which is lead by Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton). Suzy escapes from her own house, where she lives with her three brothers and her parents, Walt and Laura Bishop (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand). When it becomes clear that the two children ran away together, Suzy’s parents and Scout Master Ward enlist the help of the rest of the Khaki Scouts and Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) to help find the children. Follow the children’s escape and the search for the children; we eventually learn that both Sam and Suzy are both considered to be disturbed children. Sam is an orphan, living at a house that does not want him to return so when his summer is over, he will be returning to an orphanage with Social Services (Tilda Swinton). Suzy has some anger issues that lead most who know her to regard her as a problem child. Both Sam and Suzy found a common bond between feeling outcast and that bond grew to love.
Wes Anderson has a very unique directorial style that fit this story perfectly. The bulk of the story focuses on the two main children and the innocence of their love and relationship. While adults attempt to hold them back a label them “problems” the two children simply want to share their love together. Anderson’s unique used the camera to show the audience the beauty of the young love. Each set and shot that contained adults were very symmetrical, box like shots. Everything was rigid, even, made up of straight lines and sharp corners. The shots represent the world that the adults have constructed around the two troubled children. Juxtaposing these shots with shots of the children making their way through the wilderness, where almost no symmetry or straight lines exist, makes their world and therefore their story seem magical.
Beyond just directing, Wes Anderson also wrote the film and, like most of his films, he filled it with an array of interesting characters. The two characters, Sam and Suzy, that in theory had the greatest flaws easily overcame them. They each found a person that could understand their problems and used that person to find happiness in their lives. While each adult character was hilariously funny, each adult character was flawed and they allowed their flaws to get in their way. As the story unfolds, each adult seems to learn a lesson from the children and eventually, the children’s adventure teaches each adult to do the right thing for themselves, their families and the two main children.
I could keep talking about each and every aspect of this film for pages and pages but at some point, this review has to end. A few quick comments about some concepts I didn’t mention. The film’s soundtrack was perfect (I am actually listening to it right now) and the scenery is equally whimsically, imaginative and fantastical. While Sam and Suzy steal the show, the rest of the Khaki Scouts are equally amazing and amusing as they learn to stop teasing Sam and eventually end up helping him. Jason Schwartzman gives a cameo as Cousin Ben, the oldest Khaki Scout you’ve ever seen and who helps Sam and Suzy escape. Harvey Keitel also makes an appearance as Commander Pierce, the Commander of all the Khaki troops. The film was funny and heartwarming, another masterpiece from Wes Anderson. I give the film a 10 out of 10 and, though its tough since it still is in limited release, urge you to see it before it escapes theaters.