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Wes Anderson has a distinctive voice, one that reeks of obsessive, self-indulgence that frequently mistakes posture for revelation while at the very same time, in the very same place, creates a work of sublime, poetic and iridescent beauty. He's a confounding artist whose unique place in cinema has a polarising effect that leaves as many people charmed and amazed as those who are confused and irritated by his work. Then, unexpectedly, Moonrise Kingdom.

His latest work opened the Cannes Film Festival to rapturous applause and it's not without good reason that Anderson has silenced his naysayers for here is a film that is, paradoxically, postured and poetic, iridescent and indulgent but above all, stunning. Unlike the likes of The Life Aquatic, warmth replaces smug as Anderson reveals an immense affection for his characters, particularly two young kids who lead Moonrise Kingdom with a terrific sense of deadpan timing, aided and abetted by the deliriously deadpan Bill Murray and Frances McDormand. It's a love story, and a thing of beauty.

In the early 1960's, a small island community is thrown into turmoil when a young boy scout, not much liked by his fellow scouts nor his foster parents, elopes with a young girl who is equally marginalised by her family. Local police (Bruce Willis) team with the boy's scout master (Edward Norton) to find the kids before lawyer-parents (Murray and McDormand) try to escalate proceedings and children's welfare (Tilda Swinton) terminate them. Events spiral as they're led a merry chase before culminating, as is the way of such things, atop a building on a dark and stormy night.

An unlikely premise for comedy, Moonrise Kingdom is, none the less, an enchanting one. Crafted with precision, this heavily stylised fantasia cranks up artifice to create a sublime, alternate world in which events as unlikely as these are be made to feel so utterly likely. It's an extraordinary achievement that owes more to Joseph Heller than Charlie Kaufman, but remains entirely, effortlessly, Wes Anderson. Relishing their roles, the star-studded ensemble cast dig in to create some lasting personalities from the director's burgeoning character cupboard.

Committed Anderson fans will no doubt float around in a heightened fizz of rapture while those in the resistance will be forced to put down their weapons. Inarguably his most accessible film yet, Moonrise Kingdom is a kind of cinematic treat which, even in its most arch, most presumptuous, most indulgent, most obsessive moments, still bowls you with impeccably orchestrated whimsy dressed in a sparkling wrapper. This years sleeper hit has arrived.

moviereview colin fraser film movie australia review critic flicks

Moonrise Kingdom (2012) on IMDb

Bill Murray
Edward Norton
Frances McDormand
Tilda Swinton

Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson
Roman Coppola


PG / 91 minutes

August 30, 2012
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