Thursday, January 31, 2013

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) - directed by Wes Anderson, written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola


Moonrise Kingdom is a sweet, good-natured, good-looking movie about young love. The love is between two child runaways on a charmingly idiosyncratic island set in 1965.

I have really liked quite a few Wes Anderson movies, but I found this one difficult to watch.

Though everything about the movie seemed interesting and pleasurable, my eyes had a hard time instinctively knowing what to look at. Everything was interesting and pleasurable. The movie frame was continuously filled from corner to corner with things lovingly crafted and interestingly arranged: the unusual curtains, the overly solemn children, the coiled rug, the crooked picture. It was as though my eyes couldn’t find the thing that was different. Everything was perfectly off, but to the same degree. So where to look? If all the objects and characters and animals and sky in the movie are as crafted and cared-for as the young lovers, it can make you wonder what the movie wants you to concentrate on. If this sameness makes it hard to understand where to rest your eyes, it makes it even harder to understand where to rest your heart.

Stern, unhappy adults and an approaching storm offer the main opportunities for disorder. Unfortunately, the stern, unhappy adults on the island are the most perfectly-off unhappy adults to be found in the world (or at least in Hollywood): Bruce Willis is an endearingly hesitating Police Captain; Frances McDormand is a stern and matter-of-fact secret lover; Bill Murray is a deliciously depressed father; Tilda Swinton is a militaristic child-protection employee; Bob Balaban is the wonderfully detached-and-I-know-it narrator. Every single one of these characters, like everything else in the movie, is a treat. But they in no way offer a break from this relentless uniformity of the “perfectly off”. Nor does the storm. The storm is just another charming rival to the charms of everything else.

If absolutely everything is perfectly off, it perhaps becomes more accurate to describe it as simply perfect, or having evolved towards a state of inert uniformity.

I started to crave a glimpse of a really sad child, a genuinely thoughtless action, a window that would open up and let you crawl out of this claustrophobic heaven – even if it just led you to a mall in 2002.

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