Wes Anderson’s films aren’t for everyone; some find them cold and alienatingly whimsical. If you don’t get on with his style, watching a film of his must feel a little bemusing; if you can’t empathise, you’d be left wondering what the point of any of it was. Myself, I’ve always been a fan, but watching Moonrise Kingdom made me feel how it must be to watch any of his other films without getting it. All the key elements were there — hipster soundtrack, fairytale settings, lovely typefaces, Bill Murray — but the whole thing left me cold.
It’s the children, you see. The typical characters in a Wes Anderson film are generally emotionally-stunted adults, and I can relate to them as most of the people I know are emotionally-stunted adults. This is probably why his films are so popular in the white, middle-class, flat white-sipping, tote bag-toting community; behind our smartphones and vinyl fetishes we have a tendency to be as lost, directionless and infantile as those we’re watching. Anderson is our Spike Lee, and The Royal Tenenbaums our Do The Right Thing.
But when you transfer all this hip, pastel detachment to a bunch of twelve year olds, you lose me. A child delivering a Wes Anderson line in the style of a Wes Anderson character just…sounds like a child. Maybe a little more precocious than regular children, though if anything that endears the little shits to me even less. Two twelve-year olds awkwardly stumbling their way through a conversation and dancing around in their pants? Christ, who cares?
Moonrise Kingdom is as artfully designed and scored as any other Anderson film, and there isn’t a single frame that doesn’t look stunning. But I’d rather see him work with adults; children say nothing to me.