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SPOTLIGHT FILMS: Moonrise Kingdom

Boundary Sentinel
By Boundary Sentinel
August 15th, 2012

It is 1965, on an idyllic New England island called “New Penzance.” This movie is a story of the blossoming of young love challenged by parents set on preventing the inevitable. When various factions of the town mobilize to search for the youth, the town is turned upside down — which might not be such a bad thing.

Twelve-year-old Sam Shakusky (Jared Gilman) is an orphan who is attending a “Khaki Scout” summer camp. Suzy Bishop (Kara Heywood) lives on the island with her attorney parents — Walt and Laura — and three younger brothers in a house called Summer’s End.

Sam and Suzy met the previous summer during a church performance of Noye’s Fludde by Benjamin Britten, and they remained pen pals over the following year. They made a secret pact to reunite the following summer and run away together.

While the two of them head off into the wilderness of Suzy’s twelve mile long home island a search party that includes Island Policeman Bruce Willis, Scout leader Edward Norton, Suzy’s parents Bill Murray and Frances McDormand and Sam’s fellow Scouts set about trying to hunt the eloping children down in the days preceding a huge storm.

They spend several days hiking and camping together in the wilderness with the goal of reaching a secluded cove on the island, which they name Moonrise Kingdom. They dance on the beach and their young romance blossoms until Suzy’s parents, the police, and the scout master eventually find them at the cove.

Suzy returns with her parents and is forbidden from seeing Sam again but, with a little help, the young lovers run away again. After many twists and turns, Sam and Suzy eventually are apprehended on a church steeple during a violent hurricane and flash flood, evoking the earlier references to Noah.

The film premiered on May 16, 2012, at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, where it screened in competition. It was released in French theatres the same day. The American limited release occurred on May 25, and set a new record for the best per-theatre-average for a non-animated movie by grossing an average of $130,752 in four theatres.

“The plot is absolutely delightful and sweet. It’s such a touching and loving story which also feels like a love letter to the children’s adventure books of which Suzy reads throughout the film. Though they read these books, the children long for an adventure of their own and have finally embarked on one. The characters are equally enchanting. Sam and Suzy are somehow both old beyond their years but also very much still children,” says reviewer Tom Gooderson on IMDB.

Spotlight Films presents Moonrise Kingdom on Tuesday, Aug. 21 at the Gem Theatre in Grand Forks. Showtime is 7:30 p.m.

The September feature will be We Have a Pope, which will be on our regular last Tuesday of the month, Sept. 25.