Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom (2012) isn’t only a film about a childhood Eden, but also an ode to pure, unconditional love, free of the possessive disorders that indelibly mark our adult relationships. The film, typical of Anderson’s ‘technique’ of cabinets des curiosités – that is, a macrocosm mirrored whimsically in a microcosm – is set around the romantic adventures of two twelve-year-old runaways, who remind us of the troubled awakenings that usually come with our adolescence. And if age could grace us with wisdom, then it is with Moonrise Kingdom that we discover the pleasure of returning wholeheartedly to the unfamiliarity of first love.
The movie is set in ‘New Penzance’, a remote terra incognita which, however, recalls so many pre-teen movies centred in small towns – here ‘small’ is intended both in scale but also in relation to the world within the world, as masterfully stylised by Anderson. Our heroes, Sam and Suzy, an odd couple indeed, carefully plot their getaway while exchanging love letters secretly. They are not your typical sweethearts: he, an orphan boy with glasses in a scout uniform, wearing his mother’s pin instead of the usual accomplishment buttons and she, an adventurous spirit and avid book reader, matching her pink dress with a pair of binoculars. Both bear visible wounds of their troubled relationship with the adult world or, maybe, these are just marks that help them identify with each other. And most certainly, they are looking for love; not any kind of love, but the one that could give its name to a place that they might call their ‘land’.