Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
2012 was a great year for “coming of age” movies. First there was Mud (2012) featuring Matthew McConaughey in the beginning of his comeback tour, and then there was Moonrise Kingdom. Moonrise differs from Mud in that this world is far less gritty and realistic, and definitely more “fairy tale” like, but nobody plays this for laughs or irony. Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Ed Norton, Bill Murray and child actors Jared Gillman and Kaya Hayward (holy crap, look at that cast…) are all imminently likable and deliver very strong performances. In a way all of their performances have a similar fulcrum point in that they seem grounded in this world weariness that permeates this fantastical children’s dreamscape. The story’s justification for this dreamscape is that New Penzance, is located on an island off the coast of New England in a community that is cut off enough from the rest of society to not be influenced by some of the “negative aspects” afoot in the American mainstream. The story is set in 1965 at a big Scout Camp where young Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) fall in love and decide to run away. Seems logical enough? The scenes of them on the run and making camp together are among the most touching in any recent movie. Of course, since this movie is set in a northeast island that means a violent storm is approaching (find me any movie or TV show set off the coast of Maine that DOESN’T have a big storm approaching, that seems to be the only way movies get made about these places…) which sets off the panicked grownups of the community to go out and find these two love birds post-haste. There’s a whole lot to like about this movie. The relationships are all fascinating and tenderly thought out. None of the characters are one dimensional slaves of the script. Makes me wish I had been around the main characters age when this came out.