sat 13/08/2022

Blu-ray: Moonrise Kingdom | reviews, news & interviews

Blu-ray: Moonrise Kingdom

Blu-ray: Moonrise Kingdom

Warmth and whimsy in 1960s New England: Wes Anderson's eighth film returns in a new transfer

'We just want to be together. What's wrong with that?' Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman in 'Moonrise Kingdom'

Moonrise Kingdom is stuffed with director Wes Anderson’s familiar tropes. Elaborate sets, artfully designed props and Bill Murray all feature, the usual eccentricities tempered by genuine affection for the film’s young heroes.

Anderson’s eighth feature film, released in 2012, is about many things: youthful love, isolated rural life and family dysfunction among them. Bob Balaban’s twinkly Narrator, sporting typically Andersonian attire, sets the scene: we’re on the New England island of New Penzance in 1965, three days before a devastating storm is due to hit.

Twelve-year-old Sam Shakusky (a winning turn from Jared Gilman) absconds from scout camp to run away with the similarly precocious and troubled Suzy Bishop, played by Kara Hayward. They eventually pitch up in an isolated cove, share a first kiss, and dance on the beach to Françoise Hardy. This being a small island, it’s not long before they’re tracked down and separated.

Moonrise Kingdom CriterionEdward Norton’s diligent scout leader can’t understand why Sam would ever want to leave his troop, and Bill Murray (pictured below, left, with McDormand, Norton and Willis) as Suzy’s cantankerous lawyer father demonstrates exactly why a sensitive adolescent would want to run away from him, at one point lobbing his shoe at Norton in rage. Bruce Willis is cast against type as a gentle, thoughtful police officer, albeit one in a clandestine relationship with Murray’s wife (Frances McDormand). There’s a superb turn from Anderson regular Jason Schwartzman as another scout leader, plus a cameo from Harvey Keitel. Scariest is Tilda Swinton as the terrifying Social Services, seemingly intent on placing the orphaned Sam in “juvenile refuge” and giving him electro-convulsive therapy. Yet this is very much a film about children, the film’s second half driven by Sam’s formerly hostile fellow scouts having a change of heart and deciding to help the pair.

The visual delights are many. The tracking shot introducing Norton’s scout camp is a treat, and the set built for the Bishops’ house recalls the cutaway ship shown in The Life Aquatic. Even the stolen library books carried by Suzy are works of art, one of the extras on this Criterion release being a set of tiny animations based on each volume’s cover illustration. Some of the preposterous details are irresistible: the school bus shelter with space for just one passenger, or the wobbly treehouse. There’s a lovely sight gag when we see Sam and Suzy discussing whether they should get married, accompanied by some spectacular al fresco trampolining.Moonrise KingdomImportant to mention the soundtrack too; besides numbers by Françoise Hardy and Hank Williams, and new incidental music by Alexandre Desplat, most of the action is accompanied by Britten. A lovingly recreated performance of Noye's Fludde is where Sam and Suzy first meet, and extracts from Friday Afternoons and A Simple Symphony crop up. And surely it’s significant that the opening sequence plays out over Britten’s Young Person’s Guide, the work’s joyous final fugue matching the tying up of the loose ends. Do watch the closing credits. Extras include a commentary featuring Anderson and several cast members, a documentary (in French) about the film’s production, and some wobbly videos shot during production by Norton on his iPhone, a novelty back in 2011.


Britten's joyous final fugue matches the tying up of loose ends


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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