Moonrise Kingdom


MOONRISE KINGDOM. Starring: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton. Directed by Wes Anderson. Rated PG (Mild violence, sexual references and coarse language). 94 min.

This is a comedy-drama that takes place on a fictional New England Island (called “New Penzance”) about a relationship between two young children, Sam Shakusy (Jared Gilman), and Suzy Bishop (Kara Hayward). They meet at a church musical performance, and make a pact to come together again the following summer at a Scout camp, and they determine to run away together.

Typical of approaching adolescence, we know more about what the children are running away from, than about what they are running to. For the break-away, Sam brings his camping equipment, and Suzy brings her cat, six stolen books, and her brother’s record player. Both the children are labelled “problem children” by the adults who are supposed to look after them. 

They are lonely for different reasons, and both yearn to be free. They decide to walk to a secluded cove on the Island, called “Moonrise Kingdom”. Feelings deepen between the two, and the Police Chief (Bruce Willis), the Scout Master (Edward Norton), and Suzy’s unhappily married, lawyer parents (Bill Murray, and Francis McDormand) go looking for them.

The movie as a whole is not believable, but it is one of those films that give the viewer a lot to believe in. After seeing it, one has no doubt what it is that makes a family really matter. In describing their children, Suzy’s parents realise what is happening around them, when they say: “We’re all they have … and it’s not enough”.

This is a whimsical film that is wonderfully photographed, scripted and directed, and creatively constructed. It has the look of a vividly coloured adventure-book, that is unfolding before your eyes, page (frame) by page (frame). Its quirkiness reinforces that look, but it has much to say that is morally sound and very worthwhile.


Moonrise Kingdom (Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting)