The phrase “this is a Wes Anderson movie” can have a polarizing effect. For some, it conjures images of dysfunctional families and pretentious examinations of self-indulgent characters. For others, myself included, it means, “Shut up and take my money.”
This is a Wes Anderson movie.
Like all Wes Anderson movies, Moonrise Kingdom is part living cartoon, part elaborate grade school production and lovingly shot with all the realism of a 1950’s educational film. I doubt this story will ring with any kind of truth for anyone’s upbringing, but it resonates an emotional clarity that is readily recognizable. Much like the Peanuts comic strip revealing the truest shade of Charles Schultz, the story follows an amalgam of simple characters and motivations to uncover something deeper about the destructive capacity, agelessness and cyclical nature of love.
In 1965, on a Norman Rockwellian island called New Penzance, young Sam Shakusky goes AWOL from the Khaki Scout summer camp to escape a world that doesn’t understand him. While away, he meets Suzy Bishop, a similarly misunderstood child, who is playing a raven in a performance about Noah’s Ark. The two are intrigued by their strange similarities, differences and the connection they feel toward one another.
After corresponding as pen pals for a year, the two decide to run away together, beginning a revealing adventure through the literal wilderness of the New England coast and the figurative wilds of adolescence.
Moonrise Kingdom is a beautiful finger painting of a movie, simultaneously admirable for its emotional precision and its physical creative license. Every frame seems plucked from the lush illustration of a children’s book, and every simple line feels charged with meaning beyond the characters’ understanding. It’s an inspiring and mesmerizing story, both innocent and wise.
Be warned or rejoice: This is a Wes Anderson movie.
The Blu-Ray transfer looks great. Even with the hard, crisp lines that the hi-definition presentation offers, the movie’s natural whimsy seems to soften the edges back to the warm glow of the original filmic rendition.
There aren’t many bonus features to speak of, but I’m not sure that this is the kind of movie that you would want to see behind the scenes. It would be like breaking open a Magic 8-Ball—what you’re left with is far less interesting than what you had.