A world of verdant hills and rocky shores populated by sad adults and children wary of following the same path, Wes Anderson's “Moonrise Kingdom” feels like a visit to a magical diorama, a place where the love between 12-year-old fringe dwellers Sam and Suzy might have a chance to clear all the roadblocks set before it.
“Moonrise Kingdom” ranks with Anderson's “Rushmore” and “The Royal Tenenbaums” as a captivating depiction of acute emotions taking place in an insular world. It might just be Anderson's quintessential film.
New Penzance is an island off the coast of New England, a place devoid of paved roads or easy access to the outside world, so life for its residents in the summer of 1965 is not markedly different than it was 20 or even 50 years before.
The island and the events leading up to a historic storm on the island are introduced by a narrator (Bob Balaban) who suggests by his mere presence that what follows is the historic document of what happened that summer, but then “Moonrise Kingdom” is about real emotions in an unreal place or, as Anderson describes it, a memory of a fantasy.
When Sam (Jared Gilman) first saw Suzy (Kara Hayward) during a performance of Benjamin Britten's biblical opera “Noye's Fludde,” he became entranced by the intense young girl and quickly devised a plan for them to run away together. Home does not hold much for either child. Sam is in foster care and his best role model is Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) of the Khaki Scouts. Suzy's parents, Walt and Laura Bishop (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), are self-absorbed and out of love, and Laura is engaged in a dour and dissolute affair with Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) of the island's police force.
Sam is a great camper but chafes at the orthodoxy of the Khakis and lacks the social skills to blend with his fellow scouts, while Suzy immerses herself in Francoise Hardy albums and children's adventure novels. Sam is still a boy with his coonskin cap and giant glasses, and Suzy looks like she is in training to become a European movie star, but their love is strong. When they finally get away and set up camp on a remote beach, the incident sends the entire island into turmoil, and when Sam's foster parents refuse to take him back, a prim and proper woman identified only as “Social Services” (Tilda Swinton) contacts Captain Sharp to find Sam and spirit him away to an orphanage.
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Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban. (Sexual content and smoking)