What isn’t cliche anymore these days? Pretty much every major movie we see today contains a cliche plot line, story, character, an element that the audience already has witnessed. Wes Anderson though, has introduced his own cliche. Using the theme of family and biological quirkiness, almost all of his films are identical through its dialogue and approach. What’s interesting, well at least for me, is that this never gets old. Some may feel his material is too obscure and more of a redundant act, but I personally take appeal to his work because it’s creative, fun and sometimes, it’s okay to be different.
In Anderson’s newest film, Moonrise Kingdom, he goes after the king of cliches, young romanticism. Okay, it may not be the biggest cliches ever, but if anything, it portrays a dilemma almost all of us go through, and we’ve seen our fair share of adolescent love affairs. But this isn’t your ordinary love story. It’s nowhere near from the usual order.
Sam and Suzy are in love. Sam is an orphan and Suzy is the oldest of four, but is barely understood. Loved may be the more appropriate word, but that is questionable. Sam is a khaki scout part of Troop 55, where he is unwelcomed, outcasted and intelligently different from the rest. Suzy, though attractive to the eyes, is not your average teenage girl. She’s weird, disappointed with life and has a track of angry and violent incidents. Pretty much, they are perfect for each other. And they soon realize this is such an Anderson-esque introduction. They send letters to each other, and at one point, where there lives are so unbearable in its current state, they decide to run away and camp out to some undisclosed location on an island off New England. It’s like an emo version of The Blue Lagoon. But there’s so much more substance and less of the awkward nudity and sex scenes. Thank goodness.
Though this is Wes Anderson, this had a different feel to it, as it wasn’t as dark nor anywhere near as heavy as some of his other work especially in The Royal Tenanbaums and The Darjeeling Limited. But it has his previous works’ tones, from his simplistic but attractive way of basic interaction, conversations, displaying scenes involving characters and his signature work in cinematography. If Anderson released a film every year, then yes, this act would get tiring and repetitive, but he clearly doesn’t, and he knows he can’t. This is why he has such a strong fan base because his work is great but released in small quantities. That’s an equation for success in Hollywood. Don’t showcase your act too much.
We get our handful of intriguing characters that have so much depth, but all act in similar manners. Anderson has this way of portraying all these major individuals in identical manners, but there is such distinguished traits and tendencies that allow each figure to stand on its own. It helps that he’s got an excellent cast, most likely his best, from Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton and the ever impressive Frances McDormand, but the two that shine the brightest here are the little ones.
Sam played by Jared Gilman and Suzy played by Kara Hayward are absolutely tremendous and lovable. At first, you look at them and are just like, “these kids are weird”. But then we are slowly revealed their identities, their struggles and why the escaped for a romantic but unrealistic love escapade, and we just can’t resist this relationship. Their chemistry is off the charts, and they really showcase the innocence but also the curiosity of teenagers barely out of their children’s phase.
Like any other Wes Anderson film, the music is so good, and you can tell he really emphasizes his score collection just like any good director will know how important it is to not just screw around with it. There’s just so much here that is great, it’s hard to compare this to any of his other works because though they were good, I feel that this is by far Anderson’s best work. It takes some time for this film to really engage the audience, at least for me, but the more I was seeing, the more I was engaged. It was an ascending experience where eventually, I didn’t want this story to be finished. I wanted to keep watching Sam and Suzy, their growth and their acceptance that though life has really sucked for them, they at least have each other, and that’s all they need. It’s such a naive but dreamy way of thinking, and I think every person wishes they could go back to that idealistic mindset.
Simply, I loved everything about this film. It was a transcending 90 minutes, and I would’ve loved for another 90. From the alien orgy-fest that we are currently riding in right now, it’s nice to have such a successfully different film where I don’t have to see explosions, destroyed cities and all that other nonsense to be entertained. And so far, Moonrise Kingdom has been the best entertainment I’ve seen this year.
Moonrise Kingdom gets 4 stars (out of 5). It is currently in Limited Release.