If the superb and surreal work of director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr Fox) has so far passed you by, then the constellation of grown-up stars playing supporting roles in this tale of two lovestruck 12-year-olds should provide ample evidence of why he is held in such high regard.
Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton are happy here to play second fiddle to juvenile leads and, perhaps more pertinently, the beguiling vision of director Anderson and his co-writer Roman Coppola.
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All star cast: Bill Murray as Mr Bishop, Tilda Swinton as Social Services, Bruce Willis as Captain Sharp, Edward Norton as Scout Master Ward, and Frances McDormand as Mrs Bishop in Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom
Camping out: Edward Norton stars as Scout Master Ward but the two young leads steal the show
Suzy (Kara Hayward) is a very troubled child. We know this partly because she runs away from the home she shares with three brothers and warring parents (Murray and McDormand), but mostly because she has found her mother’s copy of a book titled Coping With The Very Troubled Child.
Orphan Sam (Jared Gilman) is similarly plagued by adolescent angst, loneliness and that sense of displacement writers have explored to varying effect since J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye.
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Sam is stuck in a scout camp when this story begins, persecuted by his fellow troops and barely protected by a guileless Scout leader (Norton).
The first of many triumphs is the ease with which we believe Sam and Suzy have been conducting a first romance — entirely by letter — since they met the previous summer. When they run away together, pursued by Sam’s tormentors and Willis’s grizzled, disappointed sheriff, we’re invited to run with them.
It is an impossible invitation to resist. The tentative treatment of pubescent love and desire is masterful, enhanced by the increasingly fantastical air with which Anderson imbues proceedings and the idealised, isolated cove (the titular Moonrise Kingdom) that is destination and embodiment of adolescent dreams.
With social services (in the guise of an icy Swinton) and a storm closing in, Suzy and Sam’s romance becomes the stage on which the adults’ hopes and disappointments play out.
Visually striking and boasting beautifully measured central performances, this tale of love, redemption and dissipating innocence should delight viewers of every age.