Wes Anderson's latest echoes his earlier triumphs, but breaks no new ground
Wes Anderson’s seventh film feels like a Greatest Hits package. Which if you’re a Wes fan will make you very happy. Set on a New England island in the summer of 1965, the opening sequence of Moonrise Kingdom, with its incessant camera-pans around the Bishop household, recalls the stylistic choices made in both The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. The character of Sam (Jared Gilman), the 12 year-old boy scout who leads this idiosyncratic comedy, feels like a pint-sized Max Fischer, the smart-assed schoolboy of Rushmore.
A comical coming of-age romance, Moonrise Kingdom sees orphan Sam convince Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) to run away with him, an act that sends the insular community into spasms. As these two innocents hide out in the woods, they are soon pursued by Suzy’s legal eagle parents (Bill Murray, Frances McDormand), not to mention the local Scout Master (Ed Norton) and Sheriff (Bruce Willis).
Co-written by Anderson with Roman Coppola (who also worked on Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited), like all Anderson films, the detail is extraordinary – right down to the badges on the Scout uniforms. From maps to retro record players to a particularly striking-looking Tilda Swinton (a vision of navy in her cameo as a character known only as Social Services), Robert Yeoman’s dreamy cinematography serves up a visual delight.
Whether it will move you is another matter. Thematically, it’s another Anderson film dealing with fractured families, though it feels lightweight emotionally – not coming near the profundity of The Royal Tenenbaums. Even at 94 minutes, the film feels over long (and you’re left thinking it might have worked better as a short) and its whimsical nature won’t be to everyone’s taste. But such is its beauty and belief in its own universe, Anderson devotees will be over the moon.
General release from Fri 25 May.