Joe Stile | Amo
A matching set
Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 02:02
Watching “Moonrise Kingdom” (2012), it’s very easy to be taken aback by the precision and delicacy of the set design. Most frames look like carefully crafted paintings where every last object is in exactly the right place. With this film, Wes Anderson has created a heavily romanticized world for the viewers to fully experience and marvel at, reminiscent of cozy children’s stories or an unbridled kid’s imagination.
While this kind of artifice could have ended up feeling fake or one−dimensional, it avoids this trap because of how well the film makes its young protagonists, Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), seem fated to be together. Every aspect of Sam’s life has a mirror image in Suzy’s and vice versa. They are corresponding puzzle pieces that are not only incomplete without one another, but could also never fit anywhere else. No matter where they go, they are misfits without their partner. The two characters understand each other in a way that no one else in the film seems even remotely capable of.
This is beautifully and succinctly rendered in the brief scene where Sam and Suzy write each other letters. The scene features both characters dealing with parallel situations that include violent outbursts with peers, troubles dealing with parental figures and strong desires to escape. They are both living in a hostile world where they frustratingly can’t connect with the people around them. This all makes it that much more wonderful that they have each other. People may say that opposites attract, but there is a draw between similar people like this that is undeniable.
The intercutting of the letters Sam and Suzy write to each other also emphasizes just how ideal they are together. The composition of their scenes match up flawlessly, while their letters get cut off in such a fashion that it feels like they are directly and intimately conversing with each other despite the long distance. It is shot so that although they are physically very far away, they are closer to each other, than anyone else in their lives.
This scene, which is barely two minutes long, is so dense with information — yet fast−paced and warm — that the viewer quickly understands what Sam and Suzy have together and how crucial it is for them to unite without ever feeling overly calculated. It is a wonderful distillation of what this romantic comedy does best.
Suzy and Sam’s relationship is also so brilliant because it immaculately toes the line between their childish understanding of the world and how truly perfect they are for one another.
While they immaturely seem to understand how “grownups” behave, as evidenced by their awkward romantic rendezvous on the beach, they are always on the same wavelength, to the point where they seem to share one mind. Or — more accurately — one soul.
The rest of the film is filled with adult couples miscommunicating, living in uncomfortable silence and distaining their partners in open discontent. All this makes what Suzy and Sam have seem that much more special in comparison.
A more cynical interpretation could suggest that Sam and Suzy might become like the adults when they’re older, after life makes everything more complicated. This seems to be a nastier outlook than this whimsical film aspires to, though.
While some people have criticized the film — and Anderson’s films in general — for being too “cutesy,” it works so well for me because everything, from the design to the characters, goes so over the top that such a perfect pairing feels like it fits right in this world. The film is going for an artificial aesthetic that balances nicely with the impossibly perfect match of Sam and Suzy.