Procrastination Theatre: July 2, 2012
Is it just me, or does it feel a little as though Wes Anderson is expanding into new territory more and more? The Royal Tenenbaums will always be my favorite of his, but I found The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited frustrating attempts to reproduce Tenenbaums, limiting himself to the same spheres of family and narrative and dialogue that had been so successful earlier. And then The Fantastic Mr. Fox (my second favorite) got to just explode everything that he’d begun to do repetitively through literally changing the … I’m not sure what word to use for the stop-motion animation, I’m tired and it’s either form or medium. So anyway. So I was sort of worried that Moonrise Kingdom would fall back into the same pattern of the two failed earlier movies (in my opinion).
But it didn’t, and that’s because it felt as though Wes Anderson’s emotional range in terms of dialogue and in terms of how characters are able to interact with each other really grew in this movie. Like, the conversation between Frances McDormand and Bill Murray is real in a way that nothing has been real and painful and not-twee in a Wes Anderson movie before. Does anyone know what I mean? I’m really just sort of parsing out a vague feeling I got from this movie. But what I mean is that amidst all the incredible set pieces, the maps, the narration from Bob Balaban, you got really true moments of feeling from Bruce Willis or Frances McDormand or Edward Norton. Maybe it’s that we haven’t seen these actors in Wes Anderson’s conceptual universe before, but it felt different to me. I love The Royal Tenenbaums, and it has feeling to spare, but a very particular, staged, neat feeling - that’s part of the effect of the whole movie. Moonrise Kingdom felt different.
And then of course there is everything else that is wonderful and strange about a Wes Anderson movie - the lightning, the two child leads (who are incredible, especially the girl), the strange honesty of the intimacy that develops at that age and how good Anderson is at showing it, and most of all Edward Norton as a Scout Master, which is a personal dream I only realized I had when it finally came true.