Moonrise Kingdom – 5/5 stars

If there ever was an era that I’d like to go back to, it would be the 60’s.  The fashion, the music, the new ways of thinking…it would have been an interesting time to experience.  But then again, everything I know about this era comes from the movies 🙂

Moonrise Kingdom is the latest film by Wes Anderson, whose past film, the stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s classic tale Fantastic Mr. Fox, didn’t really live up to the hype nor the whimsicalness of his earliest offerings like Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums.

Moonrise Kingdom is set in 1965 New England, where young lovers Sam and Suzy (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward respectively) run away to be together after meeting a year before.  Their disappearances spark off a massive search party involving the local Sherrif (Bruce Willis), Kara’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) and Sam’s Scout troop led by Edward Norton, which is threatened by a heavy storm.

After Anderson made The Royal Tenenbaums, his filmography hasn’t really raised many eyebrows.  It can be said that  The Darjeeling Limited, Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and even Fantastic Mr. Fox never really stood out.  There was something lacking in them and it was like Anderson lost himself in the eccentricity of his filmmaking.

However, it seems that he has found his way back to what he does best with Moonrise Kingdom.

One thing you can expect from a Wes Anderson is a great ensemble cast.  Here, you have Willis, Murray, Norton, McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman…Everyone is uniquely entertaining – Murray is great as the Kara’s laidback-until-the-Hulk-takes-over father and Norton’s charmingly driven Scout leader.  However, Gilman and Hayward are the main attraction in this feature.  From Sam’s smart mouth and Suzy’s broody yet sultry stare, it’s like a match made in heaven.  Not much is known about them and the rest of the world (i.e. the other characters in the film) seem to shy away from them – yet they find solace and companionship with each other, which is innocent and beautifully developed.

Moonrise Kingdom is, in a word, quirky.  From its multiple mid-shots to the sharp dialogue and vibrant picturesque landscapes, you can lose yourself so easily in this film.  The music strikes a nostalgic cord and there is a feeling of summer love – whether it is a first or lost love – that resonates throughout.

Colourful, funny and understatedly lovely, Moonrise Kingdom marks the return of the quirky film.  Welcome back, Mr Anderson – we missed you.

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