Tuesday, July 10, 2012
The (fictional) island of New Penzance, '65. The 12-year old orphan boy scout Sam falls in love with the 12-year old Suzy Bishop, a rebellious girl who feels outcast in her family. The two of them run away to live in the woods. Suzy's parents, Walt and Laura, want to find her, so a local police sheriff, Sharp, is sent looking for them. They find them, but Suzy runs away again because her mom had an affair with Sharp. During a storm, Sharp saves the kids and decides to adopt Sam so that he will not be deported to an orphanage.
Together with "Darjeling Limited", "Moonrise Kingdom" is the weakest Wes Anderson film, an achievement that gave us so little out of the acclaimed director compared to his previous three excellent films. While "Rushmore" and "The Royal Tenenbaums" worked as refreshingly unusual 'daft comedies' with an interwoven link with drama, whose 'eccentric' style was congruent with their intellectual-neurotic heroes who have troubles adjusting to the world they live in, Anderson did not truly capture their original humor in his later films (the sweet "Fantastic Mr. Fox" excluded) whereas his formulaic style started to get more and more autistic and his jokes more and more hermetic: just like Godard, he got stuck with the artificial stories and their artificial story flow, instead of developing them into full, alive emotions people can truly feel.
This is already evident in the way the two 12-year old heroes meet: Sam meets Suzy behind the stage of a stage play, asks her about her arm in a band-aid and already they are in love. Can you believe such a relationship? Neither can the viewers. Sam and Suzy never seem more than pale robots while they say their unnatural lines (despite the fact that they are both outsiders), with only the charming Kara Hayward managing to slightly show her charismatic side. Anderson still saves the thin plot thanks to a few of his cohesive unusual touches, like Suzy's books which are all fictional with original covers, a few good jokes ("Lazy-eye"; the play "Noah's flood" is cancelled due to a flood) whereas Bill Murray gives the funniest moment of the film when he spots the two kids hiding, so he angrily lifts their whole tent over them - this almost echoes his best comic vibes from the 80s and 90s. Even though it is underused, the setting of a small, isolated island that is about to be hit by the strongest storm in decades has a fine mood, and there are some sparks that ignite here and there. The greatest one is when Sam and Suzy are sitting alone at the coast, at sunset. Their dialogues are artificial. But suddenly these artificial dialogues come to life when they have a tender, magical-melancholic episode of exchange ("I always wished I was an orphan. Most of my favorite characters are. I think their lives are more special"), which is so miraculous it will remain in your minds even after seeing dozens of movies with orphans.