Have you ever looked at someone and, in an instant, felt a powerful connection to them? Something that made you want to abandon your life and run away with them? Not me, but the same can’t be said for two teens at the center of the latest comedy from the mind of Wes Anderson.
It’s 1965 and, on a small, picturesque island in New England, there are two very unhappy children. One of them, Sam Sandusky (played by Jared Gilman), is an orphan visiting Camp Ivanhoe with his troop of wilderness-oriented Khaki Scouts. The other, Suzy Bishop (played by Kara Hayward), lives on the island with her parents, Walt and Laura (played by veteran actors Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) and three younger brothers. Walt and Laura (Murray and McDormand) are both attorneys who are struggling to maintain both their personal and their professional relationship. One year before the beginning of our story, Sam and Suzy meet backstage during a play which Sam is attending and Suzy is acting in. Despite the brevity of that encounter, the two find themselves inexorably drawn to each other and exchange letters during their separation. They vow to run away together the next summer. We fast-forward to ’65 and Sam has vanished from Camp Ivanhoe and done it without alerting his scout master, Randy Ward (played by Edward Norton) or any of his fellow scouts. The search is well underway before the Sheriff, Captain Sharp (played by Bruce Willis) is made aware of the fact that Suzy has vanished as well. When the young lovers meet again, Sam has brought a multitude of camping necessities while Suzy brought books, her cat, records and a record player. They hike and camp for days until finding a deserted cove and make camp, naming their new home Moonrise Kingdom.
Obviously, there is more to the story. There’s the revelation that two of the adult characters are involved in a clandestine relationship of their own, additional details of Sam’s life story are revealed, and his eventual confrontation with his former scout troop who see it as their responsibility to bring Sam back using any means necessary, including lethal. All this culminates in a scene that had me on the edge of my seat. More than likely, this film, like some of director Wes Anderson’s previous efforts, will fail to resonate with the viewing public. I, however, enjoyed it a great deal.