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Moonrise Kingdom: movie review

Wes Anderson's new film is sweeter than some of his other films and provokes nostalgia.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / May 25, 2012

The central romance between two 12-year-olds is so awkwardly tender it doesn't wear out its welcome.

Niko Tavernise/Focus Features/AP

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Wes Anderson’s “Moonrise Kingdom,” which opened this year’s Cannes Film Festival, has all of his trademark manic mannerisms: the color-coordinated visuals and mega-attention to detail; the arch, hyperclever dialogue; the performances that seem borderline cartoonish.

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But it also has a sweetness that some of his other films (like “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” and “The Darjeeling Limited”) lack.

Set in 1965, it’s about a mini-romance between two 12-year-old renegades, Suzy (Kara Hayward), who lives with her family in a lighthouse on a New England island, and the orphan, Sam (Jared Gilman), who deserts his Khaki Scout troop to abscond with her. Sam is very bright and very nerdy, and he knows his way around the wilderness; Suzy, who likes French pop tunes and heavy eye shadow, is game but clueless – she totes along her battery-powered record player and pet kitten.

Various outsize adults join in the rescue mission, including a hapless troop leader (Edward Norton), Suzy’s off-kilter parents (Frances McDormand and Bill Murray), the town sheriff (Bruce Willis), and a Cruella de Vil-ish social services director (Tilda Swinton). Anderson keeps this whirligig in constant motion and, because the Suzy-Sam duet is so awkwardly tender, the film doesn’t wear out its welcome. It makes you nostalgic for the pangs of young love. Grade: B+ (Rated PG-13 for sexual content and smoking.)

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