Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom opens the Cannes Film Festival
Anderson’s cinema contains a peculiar mix that makes it an ideal opening night vehicle. There’s a kind of absolute auteurism, a hyper-aggressive formalism, an insistence on the camera’s view as a proscenium arch inside of which an entirely theatrical universe is created, alongside a lightness, a preference for melancholy swathed in the scent of vanilla, sadness as a weekend romp, the melodramas of parents and the children they don’t understand as storybook fantasies.
Robert Koehler attended this year’s Cannes-opener: Moonrise Kingdom, the new film by Wes Anderson.
Anderson doesn’t know when to leave well enough alone, and piles it on in the second half, until Moonrise Kingdom loses much of its mirthful charm.
Anderson’s movies are vulnerable to the charge of being supercilious oddities, but there is elegance and formal brilliance in Moonrise Kingdom as well as a lot of gentle, winning comedy. His homemade aesthetic is placed at the service of a counter-digital, almost hand-drawn cinema, and he has an extraordinary ability to conjure a complete, distinctive universe, entire of itself. To some, Moonrise Kingdom may be nothing more than a soufflé of strangeness, but it rises superbly.
As in Fantastic Mr. Fox, Anderson is able to express sincere personal connection and compatibility while employing a highly artificial style. The result is that the core of Kingdom — the bond between the leads played so forthrightly by newcomers Hayward and Gilman — is strong, even bracing in its resilience.
… an unabashed continuation and, what’s more, intensification of the rigorous aesthetic preoccupations and occasionally precious thematic concerns that have long marked Anderson’s films. Since, time and again, adolescent precocity has been his narrative meat and potatoes, he can be given a certain amount of latitude for such indulgences as his obsession with handwritten notes and other kinds of communiqués. Another mainstay, exacting period detail (let alone the sheer density of compositional elements), is certainly never less than faultless. The film’s visual and sonic textures are often mesmerizing: Hitting a Kubrickian note with the precision of his shot compositions and motivated camerawork, Robert Yeoman’s cinematography isn’t afraid to come off the dolly and go handheld for woodland chase scenes.
… it’s hard to imagine any consistent fan of Anderson’s work not surrendering to its trademark amalgam of precision and melancholy. … Anderson packs every frame with sight gags, many of which you can barely glimpse as his camera elegantly glides to its next designated position; actors toss off razor-sharp dialogue as if blithely unaware that they’re saying something funny, which is exactly how one-liners should be delivered but so seldom are.
And David Hudson has much, much more for those of you who are, like me, champing at the bit.