The months between the moment I first glimpsed the trailer for Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and yesterday, when I was finally able to view the director’s seventh film in its entirety, seemed to tick by in slow motion. It’s no secret he’s an absolute favorite director of mine and by the look of it, this particular effort promised to convey every bit of Anderson’s signature blend of crisp, quirky characterization, shining artful cinematography, music you want to sing along to, and a story that bounces around in your brain for days. Gladly, it delivered.
Welcome to the dollhouse.
Moonrise Kingdom opens with a series of close-ups moving to and fro in a picturesque little red house by the sea. There we meet 12-year old Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), perched in a window seat reading as her younger brothers play on the floor at her feet.
Suzy’s managed to catch the eye of a Khaki Scout named Sam (Jared Gilman) and the two - exchange letters and plot their escape. With a Scout Master (Edward Norton) and his scouts, Suzy’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) and a police captain (Bruce Willis) after them, Suzy and Sam set off on an unforgettable adventure of their own.
For this film, Anderson teams up with Roman Coppola on a script that manages to reimagine those magical moments of childhood, and in some cases, perfect them. What if your very first kiss occurred on a beach with only the sounds of crashing waves and Francoise Hardy singing on a cassette recorder in the background?
Fans of Anderson’s past films, like Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums, are sure to be delighted by the aesthetic and references of Moonrise Kingdom. It takes place in 1965 and every detail from Suzy’s clothes and suitcase to scout nicknames like “Lazy Eye” seem fitting and capable of transporting the audience to a time and a place.
Bob Balaban’s “Narrator” is so believable, so authoritative his explanation of the location and setting pulls you right back to an elementary geography classroom.
And between the heart-meltingly sweet sentimental moments between the two awkward lead characters, there lies absurdity in the form of impossibly high tree houses and parents who use bull horns to talk to their family members. It all just draws you into this picture-perfect world that Anderson and Coppola created.
For about 94 minutes you can’t possible recall the real world around you. It’s enough to make you want to pack a suitcase of your favorite novels, your kitten and cassette player and steal a mini canoe to escape for just a little while. You’ll see what I mean.
Moonrise Kingdom opens in Detroit area theaters today, June 15, 2012.