Spellbound by Moonrise Kingdom
We had just left the prescreening of Moonrise Kingdom when I heard the exclamation from a girl in the audience.
I frowned. Weird? This? Hardly.
If this was the weirdest movie she’d seen, her ordinary selection of films must be very limited.
I thought back to when I watched Fassbinder’s Querelle in the early 80s. Good grief! I was 16 years old and had a self image that required me to fearlessly dive into what I thought was “deep” and “insightful” books and movies. I had absolutely no idea of what the movie by Fassbinder wanted to convey. But of course I pretended I had. It was a weird, weird movie.
I don’t need to go that far back in time though. As recent as in the beginning of this year I saw a film that I didn’t have a clue of what it was about: Alps, which was made by the same director as did Dogtooth the other year. Utterly incomprehensible. They had the good taste to play the Popcorn in the end, which left me in an upbeat mode, but you don’t need to go to the movies to hear that song. It’s on YouTube in a gazillion versions.
There have been so many movies over the years which have been way stranger than Moonrise Kingdom, movies such as Delicatessen, La grande bouffe, The Cars that ate Paris. Or basically anything by Lars von Trier. They’re all great, but absolutely weird.
Wes Anderson’s latest movie doesn’t belong to this category at all.
Actually I’d say Moonrise Kingdom is a pretty simple, straight forward story. Here’s this boy and girl who live in US in the 60s. They’re about 12-13 years old, come from so-and-so home conditions. They meet, fall in love and run away together. People go searching for them and there’s rain and thunder and scouts and worried parents, but nothing of this is really weird.
It’s quirky though, definitely. But isn’t that to be expected from this director? And quirky is not the same as weird. Everything seems to be quirky these days. It’s the new black.
I frowned at the suggestion that the film was weird and I wondered if she was one of those people who seem to hate Wes Anderson, regardless of what he does. It seems as if most people are either with him or against him and nothing in between. (I’m an exception, since I loved Darjeeling Limited but didn’t care for Rushmore. So far I’ve met no one who thinks the same. )
But then I turned around to look in her direction and then I saw the look in her face. She was smiling. As a matter of fact she was absolutely radiant with pleasure of what she just had seen. I swear, if she had walked into an ongoing screening, people would have complained about the lights being turned on.
Pretty, funny, melancholic
I saw where she was coming from. I too felt as if I’d just received a gentle hug, which was exactly what I needed after the rough treatment I got watching Bullhead the other night.
The first word that comes into my mind describing Moonrise Kingdom is “pretty”. A lot of care has been put into the color palette, which reminds me of slides and super 8 movies from the 60s. It’s a world that mostly goes in yellow, but occasionally in red, green or blue, depending on the mood. And needless to say the costume design and the entire art direction is perfect. This is stylish and care has been taken to the smallest detail.
The second word I think of is “funny”. It’s not laughing-out-loud funny, but there are quite a few moments that made me smile a bit.
The third word that comes up is “melancholic”. There’s something about it that makes me think of sunsets or the last week of a vacation or Sunday nights. The kids in the film are just about to cross the border to adulthood, enjoying their last precious days of innocence and freedom. Think Submarine. Think Stand by Me. Think the first half of Super 8, before the monster turned up.
If you love to see children having adventures on their own with a bit of “this is going to end soon” feeling looming in the backhead, I think you’re going to like this.
One more word before I finish: I just want to give you a heads-up, referring to the post I wrote about extra scenes recently.
Whatever you do, if you plan to see this: don’t do like 90 percent of the audience did when I watched it! Don’t run out of the theatre as soon as the texts start running!
Stay calm. Relax. Remain seated. There isn’t any extra scene, but you could say that there’s a bit of extra content in the audio that you might want to hear since it sort of knits the beginning in the end together elegantly.
And here comes finally the TLDR version:
I was quite enchanted by Moonrise Kingdom. Go and see it if you’re into Wes Anderson’s world and style. Otherwise: don’t.
Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, US, 2012) My rating: 4,5/5