Wes Anderson has returned to the retro roots of The Royal Tenenbaums and streamlined his distinctive style to create Moonrise Kingdom, a tale wound round a pair of incongruous 12-year-olds resolved to be together.
Sam Shakusy (Jared Gilman) is a Khaki Scout who plans, together with Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), to escape via the Chickchaw Harvest Migration trail to Mile 3.25 Tidal Inlet – later renamed Moonrise Kingdom.
The pair embark on a hike through the oak and pine forest, getting to grips with each other in bluntly honest and matter-of-fact dialogue. Alongside this intrepid romance are the adults who behave more like children. There are some great cameos from Tilda Swinton who appears as the militant Social Services bent on recovering Sam, to Jason Schartzman as Cousin Ben, the fast-talking, slick Scout Master in charge of resources at a neighbouring camp.
Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) is the antithesis to Fight Club’s Tyler Durden with his good intentions and “Jiminy Crickets“ upon discovering Sam’s disappearance.
The most entertaining of the adult characters is, however, Walt Bishop played by Bill Murray, a familiar face in Anderson’s films. Dressed only in pyjama pants, Murray walks downstairs to a closet, bottle of wine in hand, pulls out an axe and announces to his three sons, “I’ll be out back. I’m going to find a tree to chop down.” He’s a cuckold, much like Raleigh St. Clair in The Royal Tenebaums, but with a temper, bruised eyes and a tuft of wild white hair, which becomes more animated with the approaching hurricane – the weather mimicking the inevitable climax of the intertwining narratives.
An unexpected addition to the cast, Bruce Willis fills the role of Captain Sharp of the Island Police – a man defeated and depressed. He’s also the man who’s having an affair with Laura Bishop (Frances McDormand). It’s one of Willis’s most endearing and ironically honest performances.
With extreme close-ups (that take a certain kind of realism and inject it into the stylised and fantastic), immaculately designed sets, orchestral soundtrack and effortless transitions, Moonrise Kingdom is a blessing, from visual to narrative, to cinema everywhere.