Sunday, February 24, 2013

Quirky Movie of the Year Award

Last night I had the pleasure of watching an incredibly quirky movie called Moonrise Kingdom. (2012) I started watching it with the idea of spending maybe 15 minutes with it for a bit of relaxation before packing myself off to bed.  I couldn't tear myself away until it was over.

What a delightful and odd little movie.  It is the story of 2 young teens who think they have fallen in love in the year 1965 and run away from home, attempting a long term camp out at the far end of the island where they live.  The boy, ("Sam", played by Jared Gilman), is an orphan who is skilled in the camping arts from his long term association with his scout troupe (led by their scout master, Ed Norton). The girl, ("Suzy", played by Kara Hayward), a troubled daughter of parents played by Frances McDormand and Bill Murray.  Bruce Will plays the local police captain.  

The adult roles are wonderfully underplayed.  The movie unfolds like a room full of art deco.....characters that seem at first to be stereotypically stylized and yet as the movie unfolds we see other, understated sides of the characters' personalities.  The 2 teens are in some ways caricatures of movie characters from movies of the 1940's, yet their underlying problems are very modern and real.  Tilda Swinton's character is the social services employee who becomes involved when the orphan boy is discovered missing.  We do not learn a name for her character.  Even she calls herself merely "Social Services".  The set design is somewhat stark in places and brimming with gorgeous forest and lake scenery in others.  The movie totters quite happily between cartoon stereotype and some brutal (and modern) realities, outlandish plot line and stark believability.

It is important to watch this movie's visuals very closely.  There are small details that can be easily missed for the first ten minutes while you are trying to figure out what sort of movie this is going to be.  

The script is like the rest of the movie, interspersed with believable conversation and over the top silliness in places, although overt silliness is seamlessly blended with reality in a way that kept my interest going from start to finish.

The script was written by Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola. The movie was directed by Wes Anderson.  I don't know how they convinced these particular actors to appear in this movie where none have a stand out starring role, but they are all well cast.  

To me this movie is along the lines of "A Christmas Story" only with a more adult script and a ton more quirk. The back stories of the strange characters hover between sketchy and non-existent, yet little phrases and actions describe them beautifully for the viewer.  The movie doesn't cover enough time frame in the lives of the characters to give us all the information we crave, but instead starts with the incident of the runaways and ends when they are found and returned to their respective living situations.  For me that is part of the fascination.

I hope to see this movie again soon and pay even more attention to the costuming and sets that tell us so much about the characters that is never spoken aloud.  Moonrise Kingdom is an instant favourite of mine.
   


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