“I love you, but you don’t know what you’re talking about.”
- Sam to Suzy
Moonrise Kingdom is set during 1965 in New Penzance Island, New England, about two misunderstood twelve-year-olds who fall in love and decide to run away together. This Wes Anderson film is full of whimsy and wonderful performances, especially from the two young leads playing Sam and Suzy.
Sam (Jared Gilman), an orphan, is described as "emotionally deranged" by his fellow Khaki scouts at Camp Ivanhoe. He runs away from the scouts with a canoe stocked full of supplies, which sets off a search party of Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), the rest of Troup 55, and Island Police, headed by Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis). When Sam's foster parents hear about his running away, they inform Captain Sharp that Sam is no longer welcome back to their home.
Suzy (Kara Hayward) does not have any friends and gets in trouble at school. Her three younger brothers entertain themselves with games and listening to records, while she spends her time reading or looking at the world through her binoculars. She always has binoculars at her side and believes they are her magical powers.
Sam travels across the island from Camp Ivanhoe to Summer's End to meet Suzy, one year after their initial meeting. Between summers they wrote each other letters, talking about the difficulty of fitting in and getting along with classmates and authority figures. (“Dear Suzy, I have been trying very hard to make friends, but I feel people do not like my personality.”) When Suzy's mother (Frances McDormand) discovers one of Sam's letters to Suzy, she and Mr. Bishop (Bill Murray) join the search.
Sam utilizes his Khaki scout knowledge as he and Suzy navigate their way along the Old Chickchaw Harvest Migration Trail. Suzy brings a suitcase full of library books (which she may return, someday), her cat, Lionel's record player, and her lefty scissors. Whenever they stop to take a break she reads aloud from her books as Sam listens and smokes a pipe. She prefers stories with magical powers and tells Sam that she wants to go on adventures when she’s older.
I could go on about the awesome cast, from Sam's fellow Khaki scouts to Jason Schwartzman's brief appearance as Cousin Ben. And the script by Anderson and Roman Coppola has so many great lines I had to restrain myself from including twenty quotes in this post.* Additionally, the soundtrack, with songs from composer Benjamin Britton, Alexandre Desplat, and Hank Williams, is beautiful and playful, down to the final “cuckoo, cuckoo.” Hilarious, sweet, and definitely a little crazy, Moonrise Kingdom is my favorite movie of the year.
*Okay, I can't help myself. If you want to see more of my favorite quotes from the movie, click to read more!