MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012, Wes Anderson): 9/10
With this existential rite-of-passage adventure, Anderson has made what may end up being his signature masterpiece. He’s certainly covered some of this ground before — with his central romance, there are echoes of Anderson heroes and heroines past: Suzy is a younger version of Gwyneth Paltrow’s brooding, poker-faced ingenue from THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, and Sam is a more grounded, less egotistical, but equally stubborn and passionate incarnation of RUSHMORE’s Max Fischer — and he certainly pays a debt to his influences as well [with the girl reading a storybook aloud to her lover high above a wilderness campsite, with authorities closing in on them, he inches close to outright thievery of Malick’s BADLANDS; and his shot of a flood rushing into scout headquarters is framed and conducted just like the elevator blood from Kubrick’s THE SHINING], but he’s never had such clarity of message. This story of two distinctly creative souls, still unsullied by the compromises and letdowns that adulthood will bring, courageously escape from the confines of a rigid society determined to ascribe nothing short of insanity to anyone who dares exhibit quirky individuality. In doing so, they come of age, and even find a way to come back to the culture they dreamed of abandoning, when they discover that one can fight within the system. It’s a bold, optimistic statement and Anderson’s most mature philosophy to date, characteristically explored through adolescent innocence. Sure to be one of the year’s best films.