Since I had a baby nearly a year ago, I have not been to a real movie in a real theater. Pre-kiddo, this was my favorite introvert pastime: movie-going, all by myself (usually with a secret stash of Twizzlers). Suffice it to say, returning to the theater this time around was a carefully planned affair. I had to choose wisely. It was critical not to waste my first movie experience in a year on some cinematic dud. And, chose wisely, I did.
Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom presents the young love story of Suzy and Sam in the director's usual (yet still remarkable) manner. He carefully composes each scene as if a still photograph. He precisely selects props and sets to evoke the zeitgeist of the 1960s. Yet, he still has restraint, not over crowding or cluttering the screen with superfluous detail or garish colors. The music always perfectly echos the sentiments of the characters, whether Benjamin Britten composed the notes or Hank Williams.
Aside all that mastery, beyond Anderson's mechanical brilliance is a story with a soul. Partnering with Roman Coppola, Wes Anderson writes characters that are deeply relatable in their human frailties and inevitably likable in their quirks and affectations.
The supporting cast of Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Bill Murray each add moments of comic relief juxtaposed with wrenching pathos (in a way only Anderson can muster). But, this movie isn't about the adults. It is not really meant to remind us of our adult lives. This is an ode to childhood even if the two young protagonists are more mature than any adult around them. It champions that fervent (if ingenuous) belief that the impossible can come true and that you really can make your own way in this complicated world.
When the great adventure of Sam and Suzy is finally forced to an end (thanks to a flood of Biblical proportions), I felt grateful that they (and Anderson) allowed us to escape along with them. I was reminded of that intoxicating, unquenchably sweet first-love and of childhood wonders and of ridiculous dreams. And, I really hope they all lived happily ever after.