Moonrise Kingdom is a film well worth immersing yourself in. Like most of Wes Anderson's films (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic), this is one of those pieces with such a distinctive aesthetic, you basically have to surrender yourself to it, or not bother at all. If you fight it, you'll have a horrible time; give into it and you'll soon find yourself exploring a world of taut, nostalgic, just-so beauty.
The plot is slight; the themes huge. In a nutshell, two twelve year olds (Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman) agree to run away together; other characters (Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton and Tilda Swinton) search for them, a set-up that allows musings on new love, soured love, sexual awakening, parents and children, authority versus autonomy, insanity vs individualism and exploration in several senses of the word.
At times there's an exciting hint of Lord Of The Flies savagery, at others, Moonrise Kingdom is a dreamy Wendy and The Lost Boys Neverland. Lord Of The Flies and Peter Pan are of course literary classics about children on the cusp of adulthood, wrestling with their feelings about such supposedly adult concerns as violence and sex, (or, more politely, love). One of Moonrise Kingdom's great strengths is in its recognition that children aren't innocent until sixteen and then suddenly adults, but capable of experiencing incredibly strong emotions for each other. It's a sensitive subject, sensitively handled by Anderson and Roman Coppola's script, which doesn't condescend to these kids, or make us feel perverse watching them fall for each other. I'd say it's Anderson's best film since Tenebaums.
In a nutshell: It's doubtful this will win over any outright Anderson sceptics, but as someone who wasn't sure about a couple of his more recent films, this is an exciting reaffirmation of talent.
By Catherine Bray