|Kara Hayward, Jared Gilman, Moonrise Kingdom, Focus Features, 2012.|
Illuminating the screen with his own curiously encapsulating style, Wes Anderson delivers the best American film so far this year. The twinging feelings of young love, childhood, Summer, nostalgia ignite storybook imaginariums so free in their creation that they eviscerate everything they touch. Anderson has realized his full potential before; his sophomore feature, Rushmore, was an empowering feat of imagination. Here, he delivers a mature masterpiece.
The way he grips us in the vice of his visual storytelling is startling. He has never felt so forceful before. It feels as if he is allowing his intentions to match his realizations for the very first time. Along with The Fantastic Mr. Fox, this is some of his best recent work. The worlds he fantasizes in both films are hypnotic in their collision of style and heart, something that some of his earlier films lacked.
Crafting a mythical 60s island infused with the spirit of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Anderson's ornate style is perfectly suited for this stratosphere. Robert Yeoman's cinematography is lustrous, ripe with intent. Alexandre Desplat's score is plucky, folksy, adventuresome. Anderson relies on their gifts to forge his own way as a storyteller. Austere yet clever, Anderson and Roman Coppola's script is a magical land in its own right; its riches only magnify and multiply on-screen.
The affectations of Anderson's characters work devilishly; their dialogue can be alternately realistic and ostentatious. The flatness of delivery recalls Bresson. Yet aside from that, Anderson has, to my mind, completely realized his own original style, with nary a trace of influence. Tati and Leone come to mind in certain shots. What he is doing is mapping out the very heart and soul of cinema. Character, dialogue, image are all vital to Anderson, and all wrapped in his vision, become a fiercely living thing. Hard for many to grasp, especially the fans of his lesser films, is the importance of what he has accomplished here. It is nothing short of the confirmation of a pulse, a heart, an eye in contemporary cinema, which is capable of realizing its full potential. Moonrise Kingdom is a triumph in every sense.