Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Teen Film Review! Moonrise Kingdom

Editor's note: One of our teen reviewers recently asked if we would entertain (pun intended) the idea of publishing film reviews as well as book reviews. We thought about it, and decided, Why not? We will give a couple of cautions, however: Readers, pay attention to ratings, and reviewers (just as with book reviews), don't give away the whole plot, the punch lines, or the ending!

Here is Chelsea, our very first movie reviewer on the YA Think! blog, extolling one of her favorites:

Moonrise Kingdom
2012 ● DRAMA ● PG-13 ● 94 MIN.
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Written by: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola
Cinematography by: Robert Yeoman
Starring: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, and Harvey Keitel.

A storm cackles thunder while accompanied by the orchestral sounds of Benjamin Britten and rainfall. This introduction is the ominous announcement of Wes Anderson’s seventh feature film, Moonrise Kingdom. In the prologue, given by The Narrator, this story begins on the fictional island of New Penzance in September, 1965. The fate of the island is revealed when in three days’ time a terrible storm will strike.

The story centers around the Island’s appointed pseudo-military troop, The Khaki Scouts of America. The stasis of the troop is interrupted when one of their members, Sam Shakusky, goes missing along with a local girl, Suzy Bishop. Sam, an unhappy orphan and a skillful outdoorsman, is a direct foil to Suzy; her difficult family life causes her to find solace in reading her adventure stories. When Sam and Suzy both face harsh judgement in their personal lives they decide to join forces and leave their insecurities behind. They deliberate on this plan for months and, once the blueprint is set, they escape to find a new life in the woods.

Sam and Suzy’s escapades enable them to develop a profound connection with each other. Meanwhile Suzy’s parents, Mr. (Bill Murray) and Mrs. (Frances McDormand) Bishop, Sam’s troop leader Scoutmaster Ward (Edward Norton), and the island’s policeman Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) tirelessly comb every inch of the island. Then the Khaki Scouts themselves decide to take measures and set out on a dangerous mission, which inevitably goes awry. Luckily, The Narrator discovers a more effective route to finding the runaways.

Adam Stockhausen’s production design enhances the natural beauty of the lush terrain. Attention to color, symmetry and an overall nostalgic tone inspire this kaleidoscopic world of the 1960s, where record players and saddle shoes were a constant.

The soundtrack to the film telegraphs Sam and Suzy’s personalities and actions. Hank Williams plays triumphantly for Sam, while the French singer François Hardy delicately underlines Suzy's presence.

The film method known as “French New Wave” can be seen in every frame of Moonlight Kingdom. From the cinematography to the directing and acting, this technique revolutionized and challenged the purpose of filmmaking. French New Wave rewarded a heavy directorial hand. Wes Anderson’s directing style definitely correlates to one of the movement's founders, Jean Luc Godard, whose film Le Perriot le fou has a similar story line of two people on the run who find each other as much as they find themselves. Anderson is careful to make film references to French New Wave and never plagiarizes. He allows his own vision to shine alongside the subtle references to cinema history. Moonrise Kingdom is crafted as a sentimental memory to its former inspiration.

Almost like one of Suzy’s fantasy adventure books, Moonrise Kingdom begins and ends confidently and tenderly. Sam and Suzy set out on this expedition to find their place in the world. Trials and tribulations teach them the meaning of what it means to care for another person. This exceptional story of love and adventure is a wistful tale of two people understanding what it means to accept each other.

Reviewed by Chelsea G.

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