What is it about some films that make you feel as if the price of the ticket was far below the value of what you’re taking away? In today’s economy it is becoming tougher and tougher to find a film that accomplishes this difficult task, but after walking out of the theater to downtown Portland, I was filled with the idea that something about Moonrise Kingdom would stay with me well beyond my walk home.
When one decides to see a Wes Anderson film we have an idea of what to expect. We expect a specific color scheme, heavy eye makeup on the heroine, a marriage dissolving, a perfectly framed shot of a building, a narrator to help guide us through the sometimes difficult to understand story. I sat down with somewhat mediocre expectations, prepared to count the number of times a “Wes Anderson’ism” appeared. I didn’t make it that far.
From the moment the film opened I was invested in Suzy Bishop. She was depressed, she was lost, she had her whole life ahead of her. As the story of Suzy Bishop and Sam Shakusky evolved, their connection becoming more apparent, I found myself enthralled within the hopefulness of their new found view of the world, their Moonrise Kingdom. I saw them as the real-world Peter Pan and Wendy . Beneath the story of Peter Pan where they never have to grow up there were two young kids who seemingly loved each other enough to want to grow up. Wes Anderson’s film offered the same sentiment as the fairy tale but challenged the idea that young love should be discredited to something that only exists for a certain amount of time. Peter and Wendy had an expiration date, and they were expected to. Suzy and Sam do not.
While their love story is unconventional, Suzy and Sam have an obvious connection from the moment they lay eyes on each other. They correspond through letters before eventually making a grandiose plan to run away together around the island. While I won’t try to match the infectiously charming story that is played out through the brilliant characters on screen, I will tell you the ways in which it stayed with me.
In the beginning, we are taught that our “soulmate” is out there. While we are expected to believe that he is “out there” it is also not very long before we realize that there are certain rules that coincide with who our soulmate should be. They shouldn’t have already been married, they shouldn’t have a lot of “baggage”, they shouldn’t smoke or eat too much red meat, and we sure as hell shouldn’t meet them when we are 12 years old. As much as the “happily ever after” message is shoved down our throats from a young age, the second you tell someone that you’ve met “the one” you’re sure to be bombarded by loved ones with the “best intentions” who “just want you to make sure you’re making the right decision”.
If you announced at 12 years old, like Suzy and and Sam do in the movie, that you are ready to commit your life to one another you would be met with disapproval. While my point is not that every 12 year old couple should head to the altar, I believe that Suzy and Sam made the right decision. You see, one of the most magical things about love is that we never know when it is going to hit us. As a viewer watching their story unfold it was undeniable to me that these two people shared an immense connection to each other. A perfect match, perfectly devoted to doing whatever it took to ensure that they would have tomorrow together.
At this point I am aware that my “hopeless romantic” side is showing through, but I ask that you view my interpretation of the film through your 12 year old lenses. There was a time where we did feel like our soulmate was within reach. A time before all of the failed relationships, cheating spouses, and lost love caused us to think of our hearts as damaged goods. Even at the young age of 24 I feel as if I have weathered enough heartache to last an entire lifetime, but the point is that movies like Moonrise Kingdom help mend the resentment we’ve built up over our last bad date and gives our heart the hug it so desperately needs.
There is beauty in finding your soulmate at 12. There is beauty in finding your soulmate at 64. There is beauty in realizing that you are your own soulmate throughout your entire life and finding your own Suzy or Sam will only be the cherry on top of an already fulfilling and happy life. We’re not always going to have someone to fall asleep next to, but there will always be something worth dreaming about.