Fuel for flaming youth
‘Moonrise Kingdom’, 2012, cert, 12A, dir Wes Anderson, 3/5

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A friend of mine declared that if all films were racially categorised (like Spike Lee films are classed as black cinema) Moonrise Kingdom would be labelled in the white middle class genre. He does have a point, as this is a Wes Anderson film and most of his films would fit this label. Certainly his latest work, like all his films, glows with that warm, quirky, indie character of his which both annoys and charms me.

Set on an island off the coast of New England in the 1960s (when the island doesn’t even have proper roads or towns yet), the character and quirkiness of the island’s peaceful, close-knit community is exaggerated to place the audience in their comfort zone, along with the warmth and colour exuding from the unusual shots and soundtrack.

But a storm is brewing (the worst to hit the island in history) and the community is thrown into chaos after two young adolescents (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward in impressive performances) both considered ‘emotionally disturbed’ outsiders, run away together. The hunt is organised by the exasperated parents of the girl (Anderson favourite Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) and the well meaning chief of police (Bruce Willis in a surprisingly gentle role) and an order-obsessed Scoutmaster (in a funny turn from Edward Norton).

The film is full of charm, comedy and emotion but it is a little too quirky to the point of being annoying and unrealistic. If that matters little to you though, it’s an enjoyable ride.  

We need to talk about Kevin, 2011, cert. 15, dir. Lynne Ramsay, 4/5 stars

imageI felt guilty about seeing the film before reading the book but I’m still grateful for seeing the film. From what I’ve heard of the book, I was expecting the film to be some psychological profile of this Kevin character, utilising obvious tactics to jerk sympathy from the audience. What I got was something different.

For one thing, there’s hardly any dialogue. For another, the film is highly anti-chronological, the narrative jumping all over the place from different times in the characters’ histories. Yet somehow, the plot is easy to follow and it still manages to keep certain facts and events hidden from the audience throughout, which is nothing short of genius. As for the lack of dialogue, I enjoy minimalist films and enjoyed sitting back to watch the various, sometimes beautifully shot scenes follow their course, the characters letting their motives be known through other means than words.

The film was also pretty terrifying, even if the sinister Kevin character was a bit two dimensional and the symbolism of blood was over-used. What made the film scary, however, was the threatening suggestion of violence maintained throughout and which is never shown. We are only shown the aftermath, which made it much more shocking. A refreshing and chilling take on family, community, violence and the sociopath, with great performances, particularly from Tilda Swinton as a mother who successfully confuses our sympathies in how she raised Kevin and how she is treated after her son causes mayhem within their community.