Directed by Wes Anderson
Written by Roman Coppola and Wes Anderson
Starring: Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Francis McDorman, Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman

PLOT: Sam (Gilman) and Suzie (Hayward) fall in love at the age of 12 and decide to run away. Suzie lives with her parents (Murray and McDormand) and three brothers in a lighthouse on an island that only could exist in an Anderson film. Sam (Gilman) is under the aegis of Scoutmaster Ward (Norton) at a camp on the island too. The kids met the previous summer at a Britten opera and have had an epistolary relationship ever since.

Suzie’s parents, the scoutmaster and his scouts, and the town policeman (Willis) launch an all-out search for the missing kids. Meanwhile Sam and Suzie have some time together on a beach where Sam demonstrates his fine scouting skills and they share the treasures they have each brought with them.

Anderson creates a fully realized world in MOONRISE KINGDOM and his specificity makes the film work. You believe in the scout camp, the lighthouse, that theater, the brewing storm, which is lovingly filmed, the books that Suzie brings with her.

The people I saw this movie with complained of its sentimental and twee aura. I found it to be a dark film beneath the sunny color palette and the gorgeous scenery of an island paradise. The Bishops have a floundering marriage and pay little attention to their kids, who spend most of the day listening to music by Benjamin Britten. Sam is being given up by his foster parents. A storm (The Tempest?) is brewing both literally and figuratively. Every character in the film seems sad and regretful. Even the young lovers intuit how brief their romance will probably be.

This is a film you either buy into or you don’t. You will smile or you will wince. You will be delighted by Anderson’s invention of this little world or you will find it overly whimsical. I loved it.

Be sure to stop by to check out Forgotten Books every Friday as well as other thoughts, comments and reviews. A collection of her stories, Monkey Justice (Snubnose Press) can be found on Amazon