Wes Anderson's last foray into filmmaking was an unsatisfying adaptation of Roald Dahl's much loved novel 'Fantastic Mr Fox'. With 'Moonrise Kingdom', Anderson abandons the stop motion approach of his previous effort, (almost literally) breathing life into his new project - a mixed but much improved offering.
Anderson collaborated with Roman Coppola, his co-writer on The Darjeeling Limited, once again here - the result being a whimsical period piece of two young lovers and the dysfunction that surrounds them. Central to the piece are Suzy (Kara Hayward) and Sam (Jared Gilman), two twelve year olds, who meet one summer then decide to run away together the next.
Sam and Suzy's actions cause a great deal of fuss on the peaceful New England island that they are habituating - mostly for Suzy's parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray), the local sheriff (Bruce Willis) and Sam's insecure scoutmaster (Edward Norton). The various maligned groups come together to try to find the couple, with a group of surprisingly malevolent cub scouts in tow.
'Moonrise Kingdom' bears all the usual Wes Anderson tropes - an ensemble cast, obtuse dialogue, quirky soundtrack, symmetrical composition of images and perhaps most typically, an undercurrent of whimsy. In some respects, these aspects are welcomed yet Anderson's staid approach has also begun to wear thin.
A film which will be accepted by Wes Anderson devotees with open arms but perhaps with wider cynicism, nonetheless 'Moonrise Kingdom' is an intriguing comedy-drama. While the film greatly falters toward the conclusion of its storyline, it remains as evocative as just about any other film from Anderson's back catologue.
'Moonrise Kingdom' is in UK cinemas now, released through Universal Pictures.