FANS of US auteur Wes Anderson can breathe a sigh of relief. The director’s new film – his first live action feature since 2007’s The Darjeeling Ltd – is bursting with his signature touches, from self-conscious camera movements and highly stylised, colour-coded costumes, to his obsessive use of maps, letters and music and recognisable blend of irony and absurdism.
Critics who accuse Anderson of superficiality, on the other hand, are unlikely to find anything here to change their minds. Moonrise Kingdom has quirky charm to spare, though, as it charts the experiences of two runaway 12-year-olds in love, on an island off the coast of New England in 1965, and the impact on the adults who set out to reassert their authority over them.
Bob Balaban pops up as a red-coated narrator to tell us that in three days’ time, a storm will hit the island. Anderson duly delivers, in a frenetic climax that sees Bruce Willis revert to action-hero type, as he climbs a tower to rescue the children.
Not only is he saving them from the storm, but from Tilda Swinton’s Social Services.
Tall and imposing, the eccentric British actress arrives dressed in a blue cape and matching trousers and jacket, threatening to take the children away. This is Swinton’s first time working with Anderson, and she attacks her role with relish.
Elsewhere, familiar faces from the director’s past films include Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman.
However, it is youngsters Jared Gilman, as a boy scout on the run, and Kara Hayward, as his angst-ridden girlfriend, who give the film’s visual inventiveness heart and soul, even when the action becomes frenetic and unfocused.
Anderson’s souffle provided a frothy opening to the 65th Cannes Film Festival, but the tone is expected to darken considerably when competition titles from Michael Haneke, John Hillcoat and Lee Daniels, among others, hit the screen.
Cannes Film Festival