Moonrise Kingdom

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Vương quốc trăng lên (tiếng Anh: Moonrise Kingdom), phim điện ảnh Mỹ, do Wes Anderson đạo diễn, chiếu mở màn Liên hoan phim Cannes 2012 ngày 16/5, cạnh tranh giải Cành cọ vàng.

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At the core of this multi-threaded story is a profound early-teen romance between Suzy (Kara Hayward) and Sam (Jared Gilman). She is a "troubled child," the violent product of parents too self-absorbed in their own self-imposed misery; he is an orphan also prone to violent (or, as the kids around him label it, "weird") behavior, throwing all his energy into the boy scouts to give himself some semblance of belonging or ability.

They both run away from their wildly inadequate institutions to start anew in the wilderness, a kind of Thoreau-ian ideal that, for all the silliness of watching Suzy carry around a tacky yellow suitcase and Sam's masquerade as a Davy Crockett-esque survival guru, actually kind of works. The two scout out a romantic beach enclave, confess their darkest inadequacies, and even have some sensual thirteen-year-old second base action.

Hayward and Gilman are genuinely gifted actors in that they manage to convey the pain and isolation of childhood Anderson and co-writer Roman Coppola aspire to in their screenplay. Yet they struggle, perhaps obviously, with the deadpan aesthetic of Anderson's interactions -- working sometimes too hard to transcend banal emotionlessness. Still, the romance is indeed profound in the most naive sense of the word. As corny as their proclamations of deep, unending love may be, their insularity, their youthfulness allows them to transcend the cynicism of the rest of their existence via the hope that romance exists as a fantasy to be fulfilled.

And, to circle back around a bit, this is the real reason why Anderson's pervasive insularity works for Moonrise Kingdom. The disruption of the storm may ultimately "fix" all the narrative's problems in a magical sort of twisted deus-ex-machina way, but because the film evades all the other storms a moment like 1965 signifies, it sustains its own sweetness. Sam and Suzy's innocence is something to celebrate instead of chastise, and Anderson it seems can only fully establish this through bottling them into an island. One gets the sense that, were either to leave the island -- to leave the carefully constructed world Wes Anderson has built for them -- their love would collapse. Perhaps that's the melancholic truth he wants us to realize.

But this is only one thread of a movie that's also about Sam's boy scout troop, headed by an earnest but wholly incompetent Edward Norton (who may earn the most pathos in the film); and Suzy's lawyer parents -- her mother, Frances McDormand, is having an affair with local police officer (Bruce Willis), while her father (Bill Murray) drinks himself into growing depression.

These adults act as counterbalance to Sam and Suzy, but their childish behavior never leaves the film's periphery. The closest it comes is a great little dinner where Bruce Willis's Captain Sharp offers Sam a sip from his beer, perhaps acknowledging that this child, despite his problems, is more grown up than those around him, who abuse alcohol to escape their pains.

This is all well and good, you may say, but what of Anderson's camera? Moonrise Kingdom does indeed look beautiful; the best shots, if you are an Anderson fan, are of large groups of people carefully arranged, their body language and facial expressions working as collective units, the tensions between foreground and background speaking to the broader meanings of these moments. But despite the literal depth of the camera lens, the cinematography is still dioramic, treating space as "flat," as something to glide across and arrange in degrees of horizontal or vertical axes. In many shots and sequences, things seem to exist on single planes as the camera's movement tracks through on a dolly, and the interspersion of close-ups of letters, novel covers, and albums into the editing signals Anderson's own acknowledgement that he sees cinema as a storytelling device that works alongside these other modes of transmission.

Whether this flatness drains or enhances the emotion of the movie is, again, up to whichever area of Camp Anderson you are invested in. His latest effort is a magnification of all things "Wes Anderson," showing less aesthetic growth than you may hope for even as it revels in its beautiful little spaces. As someone who generally loves his work, Moonrise Kingdom is a bit scattershot: moments of virtuosity offset by moments of overreaching, of stringing the film either too tightly or not at all. There is a continual push and pull between being wholly enamored and somewhat sterilized by the arrangements in Moonrise Kingdom.

At its heart, there's Sam and Suzy. And they push the movie over the edge, into something Anderson hasn't quite hit before. While Rushmore was certainly a movie about youthful consciousness and the juxtaposition between the mature-youth and the immature-man, Moonrise Kingdom stabs at that most pure of emotions: teenage love. Pure, unadulterated infatuation. Sam and Suzy curl around each others' souls, not because they are "more mature" than those around them necessarily, but because they recognize that loneliness is an awful thing to bear.

By not questioning their love--indeed, by singing its praises to the literal church rafters--Wes Anderson neatly avoids the trap he lays for himself in Moonrise Kingdom. It turns out there is a gentle soul beneath that deadpan, after all.

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