Friday, July 6, 2012

Charmed at the Movies

MOONRISE KINGDOM is a very strange movie -- but, then, it was created by Wes Anderson, whom one either loves or hates (I once saw a shouting match erupt at a dinner party in D.C. over THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS).  KINGDOM is also, in its own wonky way, utterly charming.

In 1965, two twelve-year-olds run away together, one from Scout camp and one from home.  These kids are both loners, Sam disliked by everybody in his Scout troop and Suzy the object of a brochure her parents have acquired, HELP FOR THE VERY TROUBLED CHILD.  Suzy, played by Kara Hayward, has the spookiest intensity I've ever seen in a young girl, enhanced by great quantities of eye makeup.  She and Sam are in love.

This could have been a set-up for an icky script, sentimental or too knowing or even tragic, but it's not.  The movie plays the kids' escape dead-pan, and it is both hilarious and moving.  These kids know they're both outcasts and they glom onto each other as if clutching life rafts, although with a childish consideration for the other person that none of the adults in the film are able to muster.  Suzy's mother is having a juiceless affair with the local sheriff.  Suzy's dad is teetering on the edge of despair.  The scoutmaster takes refuge in doing everything by the book, which means his charges are completely out of his control.  The Nurse Ratched-like woman from Social Services (which is the only name she is addressed by, as in "Social Services, we found them") is frozen inside.

The movie mixes the concrete with the improbable, all narrated by a gnome-like figure in a knit hat who earnestly explains, with the aid of many maps, the geography of the island where the kids are hiding, as if narrating an important historical battle.  Suzy and Sam are resourceful, committed, and touching.  If you met these kids in person, you probably wouldn't like them, but seen from a safe distance, they're admirable.  See this movie -- but only if you have a taste for the whimsically weird. 


Joe Iriarte said...

Sounds like something I might like. I'll keep an eye out for when it hits iTunes.

Doug Dandridge said...

I would be interested in seeing it too, when it come to netflicks or Redbox. Or will it be one of those almost unknown films one has to order on Amazon.