I love Wes Anderson's movies but watching Moonrise Kingdom, at first, I was thinking 'no'. The opening scenes echoed The Royal Tenenbaums. The iconic house, the quirky children lounging about, doing their own eccentric things, dressed à la mode d'Anderson. I began to tighten with disappointment. Oh, pffft.
But then, oh then, it snuck up on me and I was thinking 'how could anyone fail to be utterly charmed by this movie?' What hard-hearted soul could see this and not be swayed, undone, dismantled and completely transported by nostalgia (which if it has a colour, surely has to be burnt-orange.)
By the end of it, I had rationalised and accepted that the waste of actors like Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton was necessary in this movie. All the adults except Ed Norton and Bruce Willis were bit players. But then, but then: oh, it's a movie about two 12 year olds in love. You can't have the adults intruding on that narrative. (Recently I had to defend myself against the charge that some of my characters in my manuscript are 'flat'. I like flat characters and it's not just lazy writing that can result in these types of characters. A flat character is one upon which the reader can hang his/her own ideas, almost like one of those cut-out doll shapes and you choose the paper clothes. When I'm reading I don't want everything spelled out, I want very little spelled out, in fact sometimes I want nothing spelled out at all. That way my reading becomes part of the construction of the story. I don't want to know what colour eyes, how long the hair, how rough the beard, how retroussé the nose. And if a character is described as beautiful I hate her immediately and am jerked out of the story.)
I read one review where the movie was criticised for depicting the two protagonists having sex. Say what? I did not see any intimation of that at all. Sure, they get 'married' but this is an innocent movie, delightful and sweet and simple. So simple and so true to how kids have romances, or should have romances, these days.
I need to let it settle. My comparisons to Anderson's other movies did colour my response. There was none of the depth of Tenenbaum switching between adult and child perspectives; none of its humour either. There was no smartness of Steve Zissou. No adult POV therefore no adult angst or frustration or complicated emotion. This makes it all the more delicious; the focus is on the two kids, it's their movie and their story is unpolluted by all things grown up. The attention to detail is gorgeous and lush. The beach where they pitch their tent is a magical place of temporary sanctuary; their journey there and back and their clashes with the 'evil scouts' - what a wonderful movie. I felt it could have gone for another half hour but what would they have done with it? I suppose like the kids at the centre of it, I didn't want the magic to end.