Bollywood lovers will get this: Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom is like Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak but with 12 year old kids for protagonists.It is the final forty five minutes of that film converted into a offbeat feature, Wes Anderson style. In 1965, two kids run away from their homes on a tranquil island and decide to start a life on their own on a secluded beach. Sam (Jared Gilman) is an orphan attending a scout camp on the island where he is a misfit and a constant source of anxiety for the camp counselor (Edward Norton). Suzy (Kara Hayward) is a reader, a dreamer; someone who believes that she is wiser well beyond her years; with a slob (Bill Murray) and an adulterer (Frances McDormand) for parents. Mayhem ensues when they run away as the counselor, the parents and a cop (Bruce Willis) embark on a search for them. The remaining scouts (also pre-teens) join the search party, like a tamer version of their teenage counterparts from Battle Royale, to settle scores with Sam. Add to this an oncoming freak storm and you have the perfect setting for a odd, adventurous love story.
The first thing you notice about the film is the striking photography. Suffused with a warm colour palette, the images of the island carry a very distinct look and set the dreamy, fairy-tale like atmosphere perfectly for the quirky fantasy to play itself out. Anderson also manages to assemble a truly superb cast together. While all the stalwarts deliver competent performances, it is the kids, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward that really blow your mind and capture your heart. Gilman plays Sam as the perfect underdog; nerdy, awkward and yet, brave hearted. Hayward looks like Emma Roberts but with considerably better acting skills. She plays Suzy wonderfully; and channels the rebellious, curious spirit quite effectively. From the moment when they first meet in a church, he in his scouts uniform and she dressed as a raven for a play, you are immediately sucked into their little world, rooting for them against all odds and oddities to succeed.
Wes Anderson serves up his personal best in the form of Moonrise Kingdom. He directs the film with a deft hand and uses his signature whimsical style to make even the most preposterous and the most perplexing bits go down smoothly. In the process, he provides us with arguably the most emotionally rewarding and heartwarming love story in recent memory. There is a purity and innocence to the love of Sam and Suzy that is a rarity in these times. Sure, as they grow, that innocence is likely to be lost and the film hints at the haunting spectre of adulthood at several points. However, Anderson here is wise for seeing Sam and Suzy not as they are (naive pre-teens) but as they see themselves (rebellious, kindred spirits). This lends to their tale of love a sincerity and poignancy that will find resonance with a wider audience.
Overall, Moonrise Kingdom is one of the finest films I am likely to see this year. It is Anderson's most accessible work without compromising on his distinctive style. Beneath its veneer of idiosyncrasies, this is an emotionally rich and complex tale of rebellious, young love with memorable, well drawn out characters that will leave you with a big smile on your face as you exit the theatre.