What if two emotionally troubled 12-year-olds fell in love and decided to run away together? The result would be Wes Anderson’s whimsical film, Moonrise Kingdom. The film, which features an ensemble cast including Bill Murray and Bruce Willis, tells the story of Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward) and Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman), two children who meet at a church concert and start a yearlong correspondence through letters.
The year is 1965 and the story is set on the fictional island of New Penzance off the coast of New England. Sam, an orphan, runs away in the middle of the night from the fictional Camp Ivanhoe. When he is discovered missing, the camp and the police start a wild search throughout the island to find him. Suzy runs away from home amidst the chaos and meets Sam. When Suzy’s parents realize she too is missing, they insist that she be found as well. This is set against the backdrop of a huge storm, which comes as a shock to the island’s inhabitants.
Overall, the film sounds like an innocent, if very unconventional, love story. In actuality, the film contains some odd and disturbing scenes. There is a scene where Suzy stabs one of Sam’s campmates who was sent to search for him with a pair of lefty scissors and another scene where you see a dead dog’s body covered in blood from an arrow.
The film succeeds in its originality and how you never know what’s coming next. The scenery and costumes are great and the acting is realistic and well casted. However, the film fails in making Hayward appear the age of her character: she simply looks too old for the part. And the character of Suzy herself is quite scary (scary enough that her mother buys a book about helping raise troubled children). Suzy is a likable character but she has really dramatic mood swings and the character of Sam doesn’t possess the maturity of his female counterpart.
Moonrise Kingdom is an entertaining, yet odd and, at times, disturbing film; but the movie is ultimately a success and not one to miss. I give it 4.75 out of 5 stars.