It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Wes Anderson's mind must be an exciting place for a story idea to be born. It immediately becomes more than a series of events and is transformed into a world with its own rules, in which everything is driven by emotions and desires as convincing as they are magical. "Moonrise Kingdom" creates such a world and takes place on an island that might as well be ruled by Prospero. It's set in 1965, though it might as well be set at any time.
On this island no one seems to live except for those involved in the story. There is a lighthouse in which the heroine, Suzy, lives with her family, and a Scout camp where the hero, Sam, stirs restlessly under what seem to him childish restrictions. Sam and Suzy met the previous summer and have been pen pals ever since, plotting a sort of jailbreak from their lives during which they could have an adventure out from under the thumbs of adults, if only for a week.
Sam (Jared Gilman) is an orphan, solemn behind oversized eyeglasses, an expert in scouting. Suzy (Kara Hayward) is bookish, a dreamer. When they have their long-planned secret rendezvous in a meadow on the island, Sam is burdened with all the camping and survival gear they will possibly need, and Suzy has provided for herself some books to read, her kitten and a portable 45 rpm record player with extra batteries.
Because this is a Wes Anderson film, you know Bill Murray will appear in it. He has worked in the last five of Anderson's six films. In "Moonrise Kingdom," he plays Walt Bishop, Suzy's father, and Frances McDormand is her mother. Murray is always right for a role in an Anderson film, and I wonder if it's because they share a bemused sadness. You can't easily imagine Murray playing a manic or a cut-up; his eyes, which have always been old eyes, look upon the world and waver between concern and disappointment. In Anderson's films, there is a sort of resignation to the underlying melancholy of the world; he is the only American director I can think of whose work reflects the Japanese concept mono no aware, which describes a wistfulness about the transience of things. Even Sam and Suzy, sharing the experience of a lifetime, seem aware that this will be their last summer for such an adventure. Next year they will be too old for such irresponsibility.