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Moonrise Kingdom

I had an uncomfortable feeling watching Moonrise Kingdom - the new film by Wes Anderson that is likely to be nominated as one of the best films of 2012 at the Oscars soon.  Anyone watching would, of course, be charmed by his gentle retro Americana, and the feeling that Anderson would be a swell guy to make a movie of one's own remembrances of youth and innocence.  Look closer, and one senses that this Kingdom is not one of the blind, but of the winking: this is Lolita without Humbert Humbert, Henry V without Falstaff, and Night of the Hunter without a killer (just a Social Services harpy).  It is in fact, a pedophiliac film - if one can say that by way of description, not denunciation - or rather, an aestheticised fetishisation of pre and borderline pubsecent sexuality in the 1960s - that opens with music by Benjamin Britten, the known child-lover, and a sequence of shots of a Lolitaesque girl-child, gazing through bincoulars in a staged manner.  The whole mise-en-scene is artifice incarnate - and while the delightful story of an orphan who rescues a lost girl, and is in turn rescued by his loyal band of boy-men, and a father-figure, is exciting (with the storm as a looming menace, and lightning as the finger of the heavens) - one cannot help but read the sub-text, which is that the adults have lapsed into disatisfied asexual or barely sexual lives, repressed and dowdy - while the two young lovers (married no less as children) have, in their post-coital tent, their native bay (they go native), found a postlapsarian shangri-la of concupiscence.  So, let copulation thrive, is the leer.  I don't mind this per se - but the dialogue is stiff, and the characters cut outs.  The style of the film, and its daring unspoken motifs are impressive, but beneath the bearskin is something cold and threadbare.

- Todd Swift
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