Wes Anderson’s 2012 romance film, Moonrise Kingdom, was the film that introduced me into his wonderfully surreal world of zaniness. Right from the first viewing, I knew I wanted to watch it again and again and again. Anderson creates a love story that is sentimental (although not sappy), quirky, charming, and oh so joyful.
During the summer of 1965, two pen pals make a secret pact to run off together into the wilderness after meeting a year earlier at a church performance of Noye’s Fludde. Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) is a 12-year-old orphan and Khaki scout living on New Penzance Island. One day, he escapes his boy scout camp with some belongings; making scoutmaster Randy Ward (Edward Norton) feel worried. He makes a call to police captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) to find the missing boy and decides to organize a search party to find him.
On the other side of the island, Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward), also 12-years-old, is living with her three younger brothers and her parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray). She’s a reader, likes to look at things through her binoculars, and doesn’t like to be bothered. She escapes the house with her books, binoculars, a record player, and her cat. Then, her parents become involved in this search party before a violent storm comes through the island.
From the first sequence, I knew I was in for a treat. Seeing Wes Anderson’s gorgeously odd style is like watching a painting coming to life or a dream coming true right before one’s eyes. Seeing Bob Balaban narrating the story is like watching a news reporter dressed up as a gnome. Seeing the sweet romance between Sam and Suzy blossoming is like watching two real kids having an affection for each other. The music by Benjamin Britten (mainly “Cuckoo”) resembles their love for one another. Seeing the climactic storm sequence is like something read out of the book of Genesis. This movie reminds us why we don’t get a lot of good romance films that avoid cliches.
Moonrise Kingdom is a symbol of nostalgia, young love and a need to escape. Personally, this is Wes Anderson’s most personal film and will always be my favorite of his films.