The State Theatre was again buzzing with festival-goers on Friday night for the Australian premier of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. An extremely hipster and youthful crowd, I could have sworn I was back in Melbourne, when I looked around.
Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) are a pair of pre-teen lovers who run away together into the wilderness on a small island in New England. It is 1965. Sam is an orphan on scout camp with a troupe of belligerent and violent boys supervised by hopeless Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) and Suzy resides on the island with her unhappy lawyer parents Walt and Laura Bishop –both somewhat underplayed by Bill Murray and Frances McDormand. Several search parties are headed to recover the two but their experiences of isolation have made them thick-skinned and granted them survival instincts.
Wes Anderson’s aesthetic is almost nauseatingly familiar. His sets, dolly shots and window-shop portraiture have succeeded in creating satirical portrayals of American personalities for many years, but are so artificial and typical now that it is distracting. Likewise, his cast of characters are each alienated, but connected by the same droll, considered pacing of their speech – except perhaps Captain Sharp, a subtle, remarkable performance by Bruce Willis.
The film is full of endearment and adventure but perhaps it could have been a bit more lively, and the children a little less despondent and mature. With George Clooney providing such a delightfully vigorous Mr. Fox, I had expected Anderson to write something a little more extravagant in his latest project. Even if it is no The Royal Tenenbaums you’re in for many laughs and, as always, a superb soundtrack.