Movie Reviews

‘Moonrise Kingdom’: A retro-cool tale of young love

By Travis WongMovies - 01 August 2012 11:19 AM | Updated 11:47 AM

‘Moonrise Kingdom’: A retro-cool tale of young love

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Wes Anderson has built his reputation on a series of quirky films, and his latest comedy about a pair of runaway young lovers plays to his strengths. His brand of deadpan, quirky humour, couple with the film’s sweet romanticism, might not be to everyone taste’s though.

Set in 1965 on a remote New England island about to be hit by a devastating storm, young lovers 12-year old Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) run away. Sam is a pipe-smoking scout, often-bullied orphan with scout patches covering every part of his uniform. Suzy is a rebellious dreamer, often-buried in books.

Suzy’s family (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) launch a search for the pair, along with local sheriff Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis). The couple’s true intentions are gradually revealed and, along with the storm, turn the whole island around.

There’s a sweetness to the whole romance, and the two young actors possess a charming innocence. 

In contrast to the love and passion of the young couple, the adults are stuck in contrived relationships. Suzy’s parents have little love for each other, and her mother is having an affair with Sharp. Scoutmaster Ward (Edward Norton) is under the hoof of Commander Pierce (Harvey Keitel), and can hardly control his troupe of scouts.

The number of famous actors that come and go is distracting, and the movie can turn into a name-the-star session. Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton and Jason Schwartzman are just some of the actors that turn up.

The ensemble cast is also thinly-stretched out, with a bunch of two-dimensional characters, but Willis, McDormand and Norton give great performances. Nonetheless, it’s the two young actors who truly steal the show. Hayward is particularly impressive as a dreamer whose parents are unable to understand her.

Anderson brings a great sense of style and backdrop to the movie, inventing the whole island and its history. Even the children’s books that Suzy reads from are made-up from Anderson’s great imagination.

The film bears many of Anderson’s hallmarks, and some might find them distracting. The stagey sets are also intrusive, and it often appears like you’re watching a play rather than a film.

Nonetheless, it’s the attention to detail, great performances and the lovably quirky characters, that make this comedy such a winner. ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ is definitely worth a visit. 

‘Moonrise Kingdom’ opens in theatres 2 August 2012


Travis Wong is a film loving geek who got his start from frequenting video shops in JB. He frequented movie theaters more often than school, and received his cinematic epiphany when he watched 'Taxi Driver'. While not driving a cab, he haunts DVD shops, and he currently has the largest remaining collection of VHS tapes and Laserdiscs in the country.