From the moment the first scene starts rolling, you know you’re back in Wes Anderson’s world. A director who’s won millions over with his signature style – a combination of yellow-tinged 35 mm film, Futura typeface, folk and early rock music, dry humor and flawed characters – has won over his audience once more. But this time, with feeling.
We’re used to seeing Anderson tell a story about a dysfunctional family living sometime in the 1960s. But while Moonrise Kingdom follows his typical setting pattern, it delivers its quirky band of characters in a different tone, a different light. Set on a fictitious island off the coast of New England in 1965, this film focuses on the charm and passion of young love. Prone to grandiose ideas, yet with little experience of real romance and each other, little Sam and Suzy run away from home, surviving on Sam’s Khaki Scout skills.
The movie follows the 12-year olds’ quest for love and liberation, juxtaposed against the adult’s rational yet somewhat delusional world. There’s Suzy’s self absorbed parents – including a father that passes his days with a bottle of red, and a mother who passes hers with a local police man – an ineffectual scoutmaster who can’t seem to keep his troop together, and a stoic social services officer who’s as unbending as iron.
With plenty of quirky humor and adorable deadpan lines, Moonrise is easily one of Anderson’s most endearing and disarming works yet. It’s a heartfelt depiction of adolescence that’s uncomplicated and pure, perfect and forever. With scenes of the awkward, innocent joyfulness of Suzy and Sam dancing in their underwear on the beach placed against the imperfections of the adults’ relationships, it’s easy to find yourself floating into the nostalgia of youth. A place where your first love is your only love, and the summer is eternal.