As with all Wes Anderson films, the love is found in the details. Part of his visual style is a heavy focus on the mise-en-scène. Every shot is arranged meticulously to include certain details in the frame and he relies heavily of frequent pans and tracking shots to give his movies a sense of life and show affection to the mundane strangeness of his characters. The careful placement of characters on the screen, be them arranged in a certain manner or placed just beneath the focus of a shot, adds to the quirkiness and charm of the setting, which plays a crucial role in the story. The people in charge of finding the two runaways are predominately the boy scouts (or Khaki Scouts as they’re known in the movie), which is a sort of child military operation run with discipline and order by Scout Master Ward (played by Edward Norton). The only other person in charge seems to be the sad cop, Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), who is the only policeman on the entire island.
The movie, with the focus of the plot being a child’s version of star-struck lovers, is irrepressibly cute. Every character becomes emotionally involved around these two kids who, being outcasts of a sort, seek love and understanding in each other. Their innocent bond is in many ways clearer and stronger than that of any of the adults. It’s accompanied by a fitting soundtrack using classical music to portray their affair as something grand and epic, despite the minuscule proportions of everything we see onscreen.
|Edward Norton & the Khaki Scouts|
It’s easy to like all the characters and be entertained by the amusing matter-of-fact dialogue they all use. This is especially true with the child actors, Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman (who play the two leads, Suzy and Sam). The other Khaki Scouts are also humorous as they hunt down the couple with the seriousness of miniature soldiers on a dangerous mission. Wes Anderson keeps the characters deliberately deadpan and one note, allowing the dialogue and situations to do most of the work, but the acting is good from the entire cast, with down played comic performances from Edward Norton and Bill Murray in particular. Bruce Willis and Frances McDormand are also memorable, playing their characters in a natural and subdued fashion, and in addition to the central cast, there are some great minor parts with actors like Jason Schwartzman (who steals his scenes), Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton and Bob Balaban.
While Moonrise Kingdom doesn’t have the energy, weight or emotional resonance of some of Wes Anderson’s other great films, such as The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore, there’s no denying the charm and atmosphere the movie displays. It’s hard not to like, unless you generally despise the films of Wes Anderson. If that’s the case then I can safely say, as you probably already know, you will not like this movie.