A long summer has passed since Moonrise Kingdom hit the cinemas. (My piece can be found here.) With the winter season fast approaching I wonder if the bright colours of the forest and youthful romance can warm my heart once more. It’s frozen up again.
Moonrise Kingdom is a fairy tale adventure of two kids, Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) who run away to get together and make a life in the wilderness. Everything is carefully pieced together, with bright, almost cartoon like interiors and obsessive attention to detail regarding character traits, be it contents of a suitcase or the photos on characters desks. The concept of two young kids going off alone in pursuit of happiness brings the fairy tale angle, but Moonrise Kingdom shows the harsh reality as the adults come into play to get them back. There’s cop Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis), Walt Bishop (Bill Murray), Laura Bishop (Frances McDormand) and Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) on the hunt, each with troubled history subtly inserted without taking over the core story at hand.
It retains much of the charm on a second viewing, but it becomes apparent that something is missing. Keeping the adults troubles on a quieter level to the kids is a smart move to stop it getting too bogged down, but at the same time there is that nagging desire to know more. Previous Wes Anderson films tend to give each character a substitutional journey, each finding an answer by the end, while here it feels too slight. Everything pushes towards the big climax that there seems to be no time to stop and let the characters themselves draw us in. It does to an extent, but then the adventure continues, not giving us time to see Suzy’s troubles and Sam’s orphan dilemma. There is little here that needs cutting, it just needs more.
Moonrise Kingdom is still a delightful tale, but the wonderful world and characters created by Wes Anderson need more time to grow. Much like Sam and Suzy’s pursuit for love. And maybe that’s the point?