Everywhere I go I see rave reviews for Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ “Funny, bittersweet and as distinct as you’d expect” say Empire Online, “Fleet, funny and impeccably orchestrated” say Total Film, “ A charming tale” say The Guardian. On Rotten Tomatoes meanwhile, it has an amazing a 96% approval rating.
Not only is it a critic’s favorite, it’s also breaking box office records with the highest average ever for a non-animated film.
It’s also got a stellar cast including Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel and Francis McDormand, all of whom I love.
To top it all, it opened this year’s Cannes film festival to considerable acclaim.
Well at the risk of being torn apart by gangs of rabid Wes Anderson fans I have to be the one that says…I’m sorry I just don’t get it.
I found myself utterly uninvolved with this tale of runaway lovers and scouting in New England.
I was yawning literally every ten minutes, battling to stake awake for the next cute line delivered by the next offbeat character.
I don’t know precisely what it is you need to buy into all this, but I clearly don’t possess it.
Naturally part of me recognizes the great taste that Anderson has, as evidenced by his choice of set, wardrobe and cast. I also am a huge fan of the soundtracks to all of his films (anyone who includes both Benjamin Britten and Francois Hardy can’t be all bad) but the actually story and dialogue alienate me utterly.
The fact is I don’t care what happens to the scoutmaster or the runaways or anyone in the film. I have zero emotional involvement because films like this are not really about making us feel anything but the most insipid emotion. Their too ‘charming’ to do anything more.
The rawness of the Dardenne Brothers or Ken Loach or Mike Leigh is a million miles away from this and that’s precisely why I like all of them. They evoke a strong response and refuse to keep us at arms length.
Anderson with his excessive stylization is always making us aware that we are watching a film. Many of course love this but I can think of very few examples where it has done anything for me other than act as a strong sedative.
I rarely like to write a negative review of anything but with all the praise it is garnering I think a bit of dissent from a lowly blogger won’t keep Anderson up at night.