MINOR SPOILER WARNING
Reminds me that I love love.
Watching Moonrise Kingdom made me almost forget that I was watching a film. I was so engaged in the adventure these young kids embarked on, and equally the adults’ struggle to keep a hold on them. This Wes Anderson film follows a young boy scout, Sam and a girl Suzy, who are infatuated for each other. The two 12 year olds have been pen pals and planned to run away together. The day comes and they actually follow through, pursuing their (very) young love.
On face value, you can take this in two ways. That’s kinda cute! That’s very problematic. Even so, Moonrise Kingdom makes itself hard to hate. Most films, especially ones with child protagonists, involve a clear good guy vs. bad guy scenario. However, in this film there isn’t really a consistent antagonist. At first, maybe the adults who try to track down these kids are the bad guys. Suzy’s parents and Sam’s Scout Leader, but it turns out all they are doing is trying to protect the kids. Later, it might be Social Services that wants to take Sam to “juvenile detention” or something of the sort. Even then, Social Services has a minor role in the story, and is essentially just trying to do the job which the government calls her to do. We may not agree with it, but it doesn’t necessarily make her evil. Without an antagonist, we get to see these children and adults navigate their issues face-on, most of which having a clear narrative arc that leads them to a more positive conclusion.
This film made me laugh at genuinely funny moments, and say aww at cute kid moments. This film also made me think about my parents, my friends and the people I surround myself with. This film talks about “emotionally disturbed” children, starting out by saying they should be expelled from society, but by the end of the film everyone has learned that there’s nothing wrong with a child having emotions, they need to be nurtured. Ironically, we learn that after their struggle with nature! I’m no parent, and I’m not really a kid anymore, but this really made me reflect on my own life.
At the core of this story is the love between Sam and Suzy. Love? Can we call it that? Why not? They are very young, naive, and they clearly don’t know what they’re getting into. They even get married! At 12! At the end of the day, infatuation or not, young or not, this story is about chasing someone you have feelings for and not letting anything get in your way. If that’s not love to some degree, what is? This film reminded me of how fun love can be, how overwhelming and consuming it can be, how it can pull two kids together, and how it can push two parents apart.
Overall, as with any Wes Anderson film, the cinematography and art direction was fantastic. The acting from the adults and children alike is very strong and convincing. Would I watch this again? Of course. This is a great adventure and a date-night kind of movie. Should you watch this movie? If children having a mind of their own doesn’t bother you, you’ll love this film. Give it a watch!