Be interesting to see how far Moonrise Kingdom goes at the box-office after its per-screen record breaking start, which was followed up by a strong second week at the US box office (it’s also filling art-house screens in the UK as well). Will it achieve the cross-over success to become a hit on the scale of the likes of Little Miss Sunshine and Juno? Would be quite an achievement if it were to do so, given the rather different nature of the film. Little Miss Sunshine and Juno are full of quite overtly ironic material, but mixed in these cases with very much more conventional emotional melodrama (I’ve written about these two dimensions of each film at length in Indie 2.0). Moonrise Kingdom also invites us to identify emotionally with the two main runaway protagonists, but on balance remains much more distancing in its use of typically arch Wes Andersonisms throughout, even as it moves increasingly into a ‘dramatic chase’ format in the latter stages. This would usually be expected to limits its constituency and the degree to which it’s likely to be able to cross into a more mainstream audience.
The world of the film retains the feeling throughout of being a construct, a storybook world in some ways akin to those of the tales read aloud by Suzy (Kara Hayward) to Sam (Jared Gilman) during their adventures. A highly mannered impression is created from the start, in the tracks and pivots of camera-movement used in the initial exploration of Suzy’s family home and in the nostalgia-drenched props, costumes and the tone of the cinematography. This is, very firmly, another alternative Anderson universe, one that might not appeal to as wide a viewership as that of the two examples cited above.