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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

Last weekend, I had the luck to see Wes Andersen's newest film: Moonrise Kingdom. Before I could read any reviews of the film, I already knew I loved it. Each scene is like a Joseph Cornell Box: jeweled with details, luminous, Matisse-like broad strokes of color, and objects salvaged from 1965--my birth year. There is a ton of nostalgia in this film about a childhood many children will not experience now--before ipods and iphones when you could sit on a rainy summer afternoon and listen to music on a portable turntable or use binoculars to look out at the natural world all afternoon long. Don't get me wrong, I understand the wonders of all the new gadgets inhabiting our lives now, but it is as if Andersen is forcing the viewer to slow down while watching this film. Each framed scene is a still-life of a moment he has painstakingly created and put before our eyes. It is as if he wants to say "Slow down--watch this one place or one chair for a while." There is a lot of sadness in this film. Many of the adults are dissatisfied and a bit forlorn with where they have ended up in life, but it is set against so much brash beauty that the vividness of each scene affirms while not flinching away from the more mournful tone at times. It may first appear, on the surface, as merely a children's story. However, it is very adult in its matter-of-fact tone and the children-story atmosphere is a frame for a very adult story.

It is a coming of age story that takes place during one summer in a fictional landscape (that feels like an island off of Northern Maine or Nova Scotia). Two twelve-year-olds rebel and runaway to camp out for a few days. There is a lot about cub scouts or boy scouts in this film (not a topic I would normally get too excited about), but Andersen brings the intricacies of his "Khaki scouts" so to life that you find yourself even enjoying the interiors of their tents. The Khaki master (Edward Norton) sips cognac and smokes cigarettes in his tent while recording his daily captain's log. The rituals of camp life and boy scouts becomes another culture or stage upon which human defeats and triumphs play out--frame by vivid frame.

I won't give away the plot, but this felt like an art gallery of wonderful images, while, at the same time, telling a powerful story about the bold steps it takes to find yourself and to escape the innate sadness of playing the "adult" roles we are so often given. I recommend it for a rainy or sunny afternoon. Either way, you will have felt like your eyes and body truly traveled somewhere new and relished in its unforgettable hues and textures.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review. I would only add that seeing it on a big screen should be a must!