Moonrise Kingdom

It’s been my experience that people either love or hate Wes Anderson movies (“Rushmore”, “The Royal Tenenbaums”, “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou”, “The Darjeeling Limited”), and I suspect “Moonrise Kingdom” is the one that will bring the haters over to his side.

Co-written with Roman Coppola, it’s a perfectly charming movie about Suzy and Sam, two 12-year-old misfits on a small New England island who fall in love via their letters, and plot to run away. The movie includes Bill Murray and Jacob Schartzman, who appear in many of Anderson’s films, and some new faces, including Kara Hayward as Suzy and Jared Gilman as Sam. Bruce Willis is Captain Sharp, the local sheriff who’s in love with Laura Bishop, Suzy’s attorney mother (Frances McDormand). Murray is her husband, Walt Bishop. Ed Norton is outstanding as Scout Master Ward, and Bob Balaban plays the enigmatic Narrator.

If you’re familiar with Anderson’s movies, you already know that every character has his or hers own dignity, even nobility, and that every scene looks like a hand-colored Polaroid. The dialogue is just this side of sounding stilted – more mythic, really, and someone always seems to have a heroic change of heart. (In this case, one of Sam’s fellow Khaki Scouts.)

I’ll also note that Anderson examines Suzy and Sam’s budding sexuality with perfect sweetness and humor – something we don’t often see. There’s also a dangerous storm, lightning and sudden fatherhood. It has the feel of a children’s book about Suzy and Sam’s mythic journey with a compassionate adult’s approving eye. One of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time.

“Moonrise Kingdom” is in limited release.