For all his distinctive aesthetic touches and familiar thematic concerns, Wes Anderson isn’t a particularly predictable filmmaker, and no film came as more of a surprise than 2009’s stop-motion trifle Fantastic Mr Fox, which melded Roald Dahl’s world with Anderson’s own melancholic pre-occupations. However, while Moonrise Kingdom, the director’s new film, may not be tied to a much-loved children’s story, it is nonetheless a continuation of his exploration of childlike whimsy.
When 12 year old boy Sam Shakusky (newcomer Jared Gilman) hightails it from his Scout camp, he teams up with his tween sweetheart, Suzy Bishop (the equally fresh-faced Kara Hayward) for a pre-pubescent elopement through an isolated island community in remote New England. Armed with a BB Gun, a small yacht and a Davy Crockett hat, Sam is a fastidious mini-adventurer, who uses his Scout skills with expert efficiency. Suzy, a pair of prized binoculars slung around her neck, has a penchant for French pop and escapist fantasy fiction, reading seemingly made-up novels with evocative titles such as The Girl From Jupiter. Together, they’re on the run. From what? The Scout troop bullies who tormented Sam? Or Suzy’s idiosyncratic family, headed by matriarch Frances McDormand and patriarch Bill Murray?
Whatever it is, they’re on an Arthur Ransome-like adventure, indulging in flights of the imagination while immersing themselves in the natural surroundings of New Penzance. They’re a diminutive Bonnie & Clyde, on the lam from the local authorities - a police-force-of-one consisting only of Bruce Willis’ bumbling sheriff - and the deputised Scouts-in-pursuit, who spread a dragnet across the region, searching with spiked clubs and bows in hand.
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