Starring: Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Bruce Willis
Directed By: Wes Anderson
Costume design is an increasingly essential fixture in Wes Anderson’s films, fitting then that Moonrise Kingdom is his most sartorially significant picture so far. His first time collaboration with Kasia Walicka Maimone has yielded a pop culture retrospective of mid-1960s trends, with vibrant colour at the crux of revealing character.
Period and setting research alone is extraordinary. The predominantly homemade costumes are sixties authentic; an eye-popping collection of loud trousers, knee socks, two-tone oxfords, hostess dresses with peter pan collars and khaki boy scout uniforms (the mind boggles at how long it must have taken to sew all the merit patches onto each shirt). This is only Wes Anderson’s world. There is no way you could watch Moonrise Kingdom and mistake it for any other filmmaker.
It is a typical Anderson tale, i.e. difficult to pigeonhole as one genre. Mainly the narrative straddles comedy, but similar to his sedate pilgrimage The Darjeeling Limited (2007), then suddenly veers into shock territory. Moonrise Kingdom is far and away his tightest script yet. There is always something happening; the story is always moving forward.
His use of costume is to inform and mislead. Based purely on colour connotation, we can read heroine Suzy (Kara Hayward) as a romantic always dressed in pink, apart from when Sam (Jared Gilman) first meets her as a raven in the town play (mystery, magic). This betrays her tough exterior but expresses her true feelings for Sam. At the end of the story she wears yellow, which is a safe, defensive colour. When Suzy is upset, Sam gives her his yellow neckerchief. Interestingly this colour can also mean cowardice, something that could be levied at Sam’s foster father, attired head to toe in yellow with an equally yellow kitchen, for giving up on him.
Social Services (Tilda Swinton) wears dark blue, a matching trouser suit, cape and bonnet, traditionally denoting wisdom and authority. Yet her authority is misguided; instead police officer Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) ultimately comes to Sam’s rescue – the uniformed protector in white. Nonetheless these are mere observations; there are no absolutes or strictly held ideals in a Wes Anderson film, apart from perhaps the pursuit of happiness. You get out of his pictures what you are willing to put in. The more you look, the more you see.
Typically with Anderson you will either hate his most mischievous effort yet or love it like your favourite paperback. What you will not feel however is conned. Moonrise Kingdom is everything you expect it to be.
Moonrise Kingdom was released on 25th May.
© 2012, Christopher Laverty.