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REVIEW: 'Moonrise Kingdom'

REVIEW: 'Moonrise Kingdom'

REVIEW: 'Moonrise Kingdom', Flicks.co.nz

4 stars

Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox) comedy set in the summer of ’65 where a small community is mobilised in search of two runaway 12-year-old lovebirds. The all-star cast includes Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray. Now playing nationwide.

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Writer/director Wes Anderson's aesthetic leanings are difficult to define (Retro cute? Solemn whimsy? Painterly theatrics?) but very recognisable. His films are all composed with the precision of a Swiss watch, but they never completely lose sight of their humanity.

Amongst all the elegantly affected framing and disarmingly effective music cues, the neuroses and desires of actual human beings shine through. His characters rarely behave like anyone who actually exists, but they remain relatable portraits.

About half-way through Moonrise Kingdom, I feared Anderson's dedication to visual and aural splendour had overcome his ability to tell a grounded story.

That's not to say I wasn't enjoying myself. I'm all for film that are just about the aesthetics, and this felt like the 300 of art house flicks. Shallow, but a joy to behold.

As the film approached the conclusion however, a sense of underlying emotional richness began to shine through, and I was able to embrace the story on all levels. Maybe it was the youth of the leads that initially kept me at arm's length – no kids have ever talked or behaved like these two do.

Bill Murray and Frances McDormand make the absolute most of their relatively brief screen time, but the real revelation in the film's cast (beyond the insanely talented young leads) was Bruce Willis as the local Sheriff. I can't remember the last time he was this good.

As the most Wes Anderson-ish film Wes Anderson has ever made, Moonrise Kingdom won't convert any naysayers to the cause, but fans of his work will have a ball.

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