I have never particularly shared a dying love for the films of Wes Anderson, I usually have this brooding complaint after watching any film of his: ‘too whimsy’. Yet, somehow I always do come back to watch more, often times yearning for a more light hearted tale.
Amongst all of the American film auteurs still alive, Wes Anderson remains the definitive filmmaker whose work I recommend those wishing to get into film to watch.
In a film career spanning over twenty years (and still ongoing), he has directed eight films, most of which have received critical acclaim from critics and positive reception from the average movie watchers alike. One of the many films that has achieved such acclaim is his 2012 film, ‘Moonrise Kingdom’.
Set in the fictional island of New Penzance, it tells a story of pubescent romance between two troubled twelve year old children, Sam Shakusky (played by Jared Gilman) and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) as they try to flee from their home together. Though this story may seem rather typical at first glance, I can assure that the film is definitely not typical, but rather, as per a Wes Anderson film, it is eccentric, atypical and without a doubt a unique piece of cinema.
This is mostly due to the unusual visual style of that Wes Anderson likes to employ in his films. Making use of flat space camera views and blocking, snap zooms, symmetrical compositions, the wide angle lens together with Anderson’s deliberate use of specific colours, In ‘Moonrise Kingdom,’ the visual landscape of the film is primarily occupied by murky greens, khaki brown and antiqued yellows.
All of Anderson’s trademark visual style does not only beautify the aesthetics of the world within the screen but also serves as a storytelling aid, giving the viewer a feeling of nostalgia, bringing them back to the time when they themselves perhaps, were children and in love. (If they were in love)
The performances are the usual Wes Anderson affair, delivered usually with a stoic face and in a monotonous manner. It is through this direction of his actors, several moments in the film which I would usually call out for being sentimental are made unsentimental by these odd, yet stimulating performances.
As children we often wish to become adults and earn our freedom, perhaps… that is why even the children do not act like ‘real’ children and appear as stoic and monotonous as the dysfunctional adults portrayed. Both of the twelve year old runaways share romantic moments that would not seem any different if it were written into scripts with a teenage cast or perhaps even adults.
In the end, it is easy to say that the films of Wes Anderson are style over substance and at times, I am inclined to agree with that statement, especially so after watching ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ even though I very much did enjoy the viewing. But it would be definitely difficult to call Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ a pretentious exercise for it is not such a film. It is a film that is fuelled with such spontaneity and excitement, qualities that I felt as a child and it is my belief that only few will find boredom in such a wonderful film.
Oh, and as per any Wes Anderson film that is made post ‘Bottle Rocket’, Bill Murray will always be found someplace, somewhere.
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