Thursday, July 11, 2013

Moonrise Kingdom

So, here's a confession for you: before this film I had never watched a Wes Anderson movie.

I know, I know. I've heard all about why he's amazing and heard plenty of lectures about why I should have picked up The Life Aquatic or The Royal Tennebaums, but to be honest nothing he's done before has really caught my eye and made me go "that, that looks like the kind of movie I'd appreciate spending two hours with."

I can't even quite put my finger on why, perhaps because I don't like quirky for the sake of quirky. Is Anderson like that? I don't know, but all the trailers and clips I've seen made his previous films feel that way, and so nothing really was compelling enough to bring me on board.

But the trailers for Moonrise Kingdom had a lot going for them, and I'll admit adding Bruce Willis to anything increases my desire to see it about 300%. Maybe it was that the cast just had too many actors I love, maybe it was that the kid's summer camp story was more interesting. Maybe the jokes were things I found funnier. Maybe the guy cutting the trailer was better at his job than the other guys.

For whatever reason, I decided I wanted to see it. And to be honest, it probably was the best way to get me to watch a movie of this particular subset/genre. While the adult actors whose names I recognized all did amazing jobs, I was actually most impressed by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward as the young couple who decides to run away together. Their performances might be the type to turn off some people, but there was an unnaturalness to their delivery that actually made them more likeable to me, and I think that they stole the show at every opportunity.

It didn't hurt that the characters had a lot of moments that reminded me of myself, or people I've known, or my own weird childhood running around reading fantasy books and pretending the world was different. It just had so many things that seemed to be out of the books I would read about scout camps (my own experiences with camp were quite different) and it was presented in a way that made me feel nostalgia for something I never actually experienced.

The story is weird, that is certainly true. On paper, you could write a synopsis and it actually would sound rather tame. I read the plot summary on Wikipedia just now and sure, everything it says is true. That is the action of what happened.

But Moonrise Kingdom isn't a movie that's about what happens. That's not really what's memorable about it at all. For one, it's one of those pieces that film students love because it's just so artistic. There's a very distinct feeling and theme to all of the visuals, and it's like every small detail was chosen with care. But also there's a slight absurdity to everything, the dialogue and the situations, that really define what the movie is.

I won't say that it's a film for everyone, I imagine it won't appeal to many mainstream audiences at all, because it is a bit odd, but it's a nice odd. People who want the plot to go from A to B to C and for things to be realistic aren't going to like it. But if you're willing to let it just let it be charming and beautiful and enjoy it for what it is, then it's well worth the time spent with it.