Moonrise Kingdom BluRay
As you may have noticed, I normally am not the one to review discs. I don’t own a lot of movies, but I make an exception in the case of movies by Wes Anderson, because they are perfectly re-watchable to me: with Moonrise Kingdom that proves to be the case. I saw it on the big screen when it came to my city, but I was worried about the home watching experience because this film is even more atmospheric than the rest of Anderson’s live action offers.
First of all, I was a bit off put because this disc pulls “fresh previews” from the internet at the start. I confess that I had not seen that feature before, and was pleased to see it could be skipped via the menu button. The menu was simple, fresh and easy to navigate. It was also the most not annoying menu that I’ve seen in a while. I could have lived in that menu, because I just want to live in Moonrise Kingdom.
This film is really served by Blu Ray,which was relieving. Being a nostalgic flick set in the sixties on a (fictional) New England island the cinematography switches between Instagram feeling vignettes, awesomely beautiful and lush fairy tale feeling moments, and the almost stage play like continuous shots that Anderson is famous for. All this is beautifully rendered in the disc. The score by Alexandre Desplat and the selections from Benjamin Britten also feature well… one of the best mixed movies I’ve watched at home for a while.
The story itself is very much a variation on the themes of alienation and identity… but done in a sweeter way than I’ve seen this director offer previously. Roman Coppola co-wrote the script, and perhaps that is the difference… it’s missing Owen Wilson’s narrative snark. The story is both too simple and too complex to go too far into without spoiling, but suffice it to say it is sweet, funny and tragic. An orphan (an Khaki Scout camp escapee) and the privileged but disturbed daughter of two lawyers run away together during a hurricane threat, and the whole island embarks on finding them. Of course, it’s never that simple. The whole thing is narrated by Bob Balaban, with that ironic and sweet manner that only he can deliver.
One thing that I know people complain about is that Anderson is all style and no pay out. To me, especially in this film, Anderson is the teller of fables. His world is just left of what our world is like, and yet it is completely familiar. The disaffected characters are sometimes a bit too distant, but the beautiful part of this film is that the protagonists are children, and are inherently perceived as being more vulnerable. Unlike Margot Tenenbaum, Suzy’s ways of acting out seem to be a bit more realistic, a bit less odd and privileged. Sam’s plan is plausible, and never gets to the extremes of Max Fischer. In these ways, Moonrise Kingdom may be his most accessible film. However, if you are not the kind of viewer who can “buy in” to a fable realm that looks a lot like ours, a romanticized nostalgic trip through ideals and failures, then you probably will not enjoy it much.
The cast is simply amazing. As some of our long time readers may know, I adore Edward Norton. He completely engages with this script in a beautiful way. Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and the two child leads are brought together beautifully, along with the usual suspects from Anderson’s casting favorites. The real surprise of the movie is Bruce Willis, who seemed like an odd choice for this sort of film, but brings a complex and understated performance that is the heart of the movie in many ways.
As far as extras, this initial release is a little lacking. What amounts to an extended trailer, and some quick promo material does not really scratch my itch for behind the scenes material. Even Bill Murray giving a backstage tour, though the highlight of the “extras” as it is amusing, is not particularly informative. I’m hoping that later releases have more interviews with the cast, and maybe a mini-doc on the concept art (although I realize I’m spoiled by the thoroughness of the Criterion Collection Royal Tenenbaums). Still, I would recommend this Blu Ray to anyone who wants to live in Moonrise Kingdom.