MOONRISE KINGDOM


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Moonrise Kingdom is very wittily directed by Wes Anderson in a somewhat over the top style that constantly calls attention to itself.  It has an amazing look: there’s a place for everything and everything is in its place.  In the end, it’s the cinematography (Robert D. Yeoman) combined with the overly bright set decoration (Adam Stockhausen, Gerald Sullivan and Kris Moran) that is the cleverest aspect of the movie; everything looks real, but only more so.  It begins with a long title sequence that goes from room to room in a home that looks so much like a doll’s house, you keep expecting to find out that all the humans you run across have been CGI’d in.  But that’s the style of the whole film.  The humans are treated as much like Barbie dolls as the set pieces are treated like miniature toys that can be placed at the careful whimsy of the filmmaker.  It’s beautiful to look at and very arresting; it all has the feel of a Norman Rockwell painting, but again, only more so.  But how well it all works for you will probably depend on how well the actors work for you.  The ones who handle Anderson’s style the best, the ones who manage to be real, only more so, are Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, Tilda Swinton, sometimes Edward Norton and a frighteningly effective, only more so, Bill Murray.   All the other adults are fine, but Francis McDormand and Bruce Willis don’t quite make it as far as I’m concerned and Harvey Keitel isn’t given that much to do and proceeds not to do it.  But everyone does come across as feeling a little trapped by the limitations of a style that wants to have developed characters, only less so (it would get in the way of the filmmaker’s vision, a vision that seems to think that how far apart tents are placed and how brightly they are colored is more important than character).  But it’s the kids that are the central issue for me.  Either Anderson isn’t as deft with child performers as he is with the adults, or it’s just more difficult for young actors (really young actors) to handle the stylized approach used here (whenever I saw Jared Gilman as the orphan Sam and Kara Hayward as the rebellious Suzy, I kept thinking of movies like A Little Romance and Rich Kids and the performances turned in by the “star crossed “lovers” there).   The story (by Anderson and Roman Coppola—yes, Coppola) is a sweet romance about two troubled pre-teens who decide to run off together.  Why?  Well, because they don’t fit in and nobody likes them.  How do we know that?  Well, we’re told it when it comes to Sam, and there are some vague scenes when it comes to Suzy.  You either go with it or you don’t.  I didn’t as much as I would have liked and from the sound of things I’ll probably start getting a ton of hate mail for saying so.  But in the end I wanted more, only more so.
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