Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

September 21, 2012

Wes is more

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 10:40 pm

September 21, 2012

Cast: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel

Director: Wes Anderson

As anyone who’s ever watched a Wes Anderson film will tell you, a mere description of the plot in no way prepares you for the sheer ingenuity and the delightful quirkiness of his work. His latest, Moonrise Kingdom, has many familiar elements from his earlier films – oddball characters, storybook visuals, an offbeat sense of humor, and yes, Bill Murray. But, while films like The Royal Tenenbaums and The Darjeeling Limited focused on dysfunctional eccentrics, this one is about adolescent angst and the thrill of first love.

Set in the mid sixties on a fictional island off the coast of New England, Moonrise Kingdom is about a love story between two 12-year-olds. Sam (Jared Gilman) is an orphan who doesn’t fit in with his fellow cub scouts, and whose foster parents consider him emotionally disturbed. Suzy (Kara Hayward) lives at home with her family, but appears permanently sad and doesn’t speak much to anyone. The two kids meet at a church concert and realize almost instantly that they’re made for each other. A year later, they run away together. Pretty soon, everyone they know is searching for them, including Suzy’s parents (Bill Murray and Frances McDormand), Sam’s scout master (Edward Norton), the local police chief (Bruce Willis), and also a representative from Social Services (Tilda Swinton) who’s determined to take the boy back with her.

Much of the film’s charm lies in Anderson’s clever reversal of roles between adults and kids. Sam and Suzy, despite their age, speak in mature tones of companionship and longing. Meanwhile all the adults appear clueless over how exactly to handle this situation, and they come off as much less confident and assured than the young ones.

Beautifully written, with much deadpan humor and a lot of sincere affection, the film benefits from some deliciously odd exchanges between its characters. Witty and whimsical in equal measure, it has the feel of a quirky fairytale, and bears Anderson’s stamp all over it…from the cartoonish ‘action’ scenes to the over-stylized production design.

But it’s the excellent cast who invest in this film its big beating heart. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand are pitch-perfect as a pair of married lawyers disconnected with each other and their kids. A bedroom apology scene between the couple is heartbreaking stuff. Edward Norton, as the fastidious scout leader who sends his troops off on hilariously dangerous missions, displays a flair for poker-faced humor; but it’s Bruce Willis who steals the film with a moving performance as the weary cop who’s never found true love. He’s matched only by the film’s two young stars – the very talented Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward – whose awkward, endearing romance is the centerpiece of this lovely film.

I’m going with four out of five for Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. There’s sadness, emotional depth, and real feeling here. It’s a melancholic comedy that you absolutely shouldn’t miss!

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)


  1. Hey a 4 star from you… ill definitely watch it soon… 4 stars from you, comes packed as real pleasant surprise… thank you. Good Night

    Comment by Raeez Nazeem — September 21, 2012 @ 11:39 pm

  2. a long time , after 4 stars . . . hmm 🙂 , hoor rrey. . . .

    Comment by Nirav — September 22, 2012 @ 10:53 am

  3. watched this movie yesterday nite.. U were right.. The leading kids behaved in a matured way while the adults were just clueless. Is this really Bruce Willis- the man who is known for thrashing the baddies to pulp??? Willis is awesome. Why cant he chose such kinda roles in future??? The leading Kids were just awesome.. A fairytale with different kind of emotions.. Surely deserve 4 star

    Comment by Vignesh — September 23, 2012 @ 9:20 am

  4. Based on your recommendation of 4 stars, I watched this film. More than half of the film confused me and I couldnt connect to the emotions of the characters. May be I’m not mature enough to understand the emotional depth 😛
    I generally like and often agree totally with your reviews, but for this one I’d personally give 2 stars.

    Comment by Gorab — September 27, 2012 @ 11:49 am

  5. Some movies makes you laugh, some makes you smile, this one made me smile…

    Comment by Shadab Ansari — September 29, 2012 @ 2:01 am

  6. 4 star from Rajeev Masand.. I am not gonna miss it!

    Comment by Arvind Kumar — September 29, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

  7. a must watch…….very cute movie !!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by Dhiresh — October 25, 2012 @ 4:32 pm

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