Cinema Review: Moonrise Kingdom

DIR: Wes Anderson  WRI: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola  PRO: Scott Rudin, Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales • DOP: Robert Yeoman • ED: Andrew Weisblum • DES: Adam Stockhausen • Cast: Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Harvey Keitel, Jared Gilman, Kara Hyward

A filmmaker like Wes Anderson is in a tough position. His visual style and direction is so well-known, so unmistakably his, that for him to try something different would be akin to committing career suicide. He has built up a reputation of making quirky films with colour-drenched scenes and razor-sharp dialogue. Moonrise Kingdom doesn’t break the mould in terms of his previous work. And yet, it is by far his most accessible film to date. The story takes place in the summer of 1965 on New Penzance Island, off the coast of New England. Sam and Suzy (Jared Gilman and Kara Hyward) are two odd children who decide to run away together for a period of time. Sam, who is a Khaki Scout and wilderness expert, escapes from his summer camp and meets Suzy. Their plan is to retrace the steps of the local Native American migration. The scout master, Randy Ward (Ed Norton), takes his troop out to locate the runaways – along with the help of local police Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) and Suzy’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand).

 

Wes Anderson has crafted a touching film that isn’t bogged down by the usual overbearing dialogue that plagues his other films. The film’s strength lies in both the chemistry between the two runaways and their story. While it is very innocent and eccentric, their story is more based in reality than other films Anderson has made. This doesn’t detract from that other-worldly quality that are his trademark; it means that their story is more easy to relate to. Where the runaways’ story is centred around first love, the relationship between Murray and McDormand is strained and reserved. However, the film cleverly eschews delving into it. Theirs is shown through what the child see and, as such, the true state of their marriage is kept suppressed from Suzy. As well, Sam’s home-life is only brought up later in the film as it doesn’t factor in until it is needed. Anderson’s use of the supporting cast is inspired. No extra screen-time is given to Murray, Norton or Willis needlessly. The film’s central focus is on the runaways and their adventure together – not the search parties that are looking for them.

 

Moonrise Kingdom is a gentle, heartfelt film that never feels like it’s anything but sincere. Willis gives a fantastic performance as the good-natured policeman who only wants to help Sam. As well, Norton excels as the earnest scout master, all salutes and quick-smart marching. Bill Murray is, admittedly, underused as is Frances McDormand. However, a scene featuring the two of them is particularly emotional when, exasperated, the two come face-to-face with the reality that they’re failing as parents. It’s true, Wes Anderson is working with familiar material here. The film has certain echoes of Lord of the Flies and Roald Dahl stories, however Anderson has put his unique stamp on a timeless story that is sure to win over his fans – and may win him some new ones as well.

Brian Lloyd 

Rated 12A (see IFCO website for details)
Moonrise Kingdom is released on 25th May 2012

Moonrise Kingdom – Official Website

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Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day
Miss Pettigrew Lives For a Day

DIR: Bharat Nalluri • WRI: David Magee, Simon Beaufoy • PRO: Nellie Bellflower, Jane Frazer, Stephen Garrett • DOP: John de Borman • ED: Barney Pilling • DES: Sarah Greenwood • CAST: Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Lee Pace, Ciarán Hinds, Shirley Henderson

The past seems to be catching up with us – ‘80s dungarees, ‘60s flower power T-shirts and now the screwball comedies of the ‘30s and ‘40s are making a comeback.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is set in 1939 London, where Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (played by Frances McDormand) is a middle-aged governess and out of work once again. As she can’t find a job herself she decides to take someone else’s and poses as a social secretary to American actress and singer, Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams).

Miss Pettigrew soon finds herself thrown into the glamorous world of fame and fortune, where she is not the only one with a secret. She must help Delysia with her love life and career, which are complicated by the presence of three men: talented pianist Michael, aggressive nightclub owner Nick and an impressionable junior producer Phil.

Even Miss Pettigrew gets caught up in a love triangle between a successful fashion designer Joe and his fiancé Edythe, who senses Miss Pettigrew may be out of her league and decides to use this to her advantage. With so much to take onboard this will be 24 hours Miss Pettigrew won’t soon forget.

As far as comedies go, the old-fashioned screwball comedies come out on top, bringing back the days when ‘damn’ was the curse of the day and suave leading men were plentiful. Sadly today’s standards of comedy have since been lowered with most involving a few cheap laughs that after 24 hours will not even cross your mind.

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day is the type of romantic comedy that most girls wish for. It draws you into the story and you find yourself becoming sympathetic towards the characters and secretly hoping all will end happily ever after, wrapped up in a neat little bow.

With an enchanting leading lady for the boys and three charming leading men for the girls, this is a comedy that can be enjoyed again and again.

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