Countdown to Cannes 2012: Moonrise Kingdom

Will Wes Anderson's latest make for a good opening film for this year's fest?

This year's annual festival on the South Coast of France will open on Wednesday with Wes Anderson's latest, which will premiere in the prestigious opening night slot and will also open in France's cinemas the same day. The film, which follows Anderson's foray into stop-motion animation with Fantastic Mr Fox, is set in 1960s New England, and follows a tale sparked by a pair of young lovers (played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) who run away together, and the subsequent search party which is put together to find them. Typically of a Wes Anderson film, the cast is huge and features a lot of talent, with newcomers joining Anderson regulars Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, and the signs are good that Moonrise Kingdom will be another tenderly executed, low-impact indie affair. The quirkiness might irk certain cinema-goers, but I am a fan of most of Anderson's projects (only The Life Aquatic failed to get me excited), and I look forward to seeing his latest at the start of the festival next week.

Reasons To Be Excited

The Cast Director Wes Anderson has a good knack for assembling impressive casts, creating a family feel on his sets and transferring that community spirit and strong inter-personal dynamic into impressive performances. This time out he has Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman and Frances McDormand involved, and on paper that reads like an awful lot of talent to play with. Norton is always good value, Swinton can dazzle and Harvey Keitel doesn't get enough of a chance to show his skills these days - plus we already know what to expect from living legend Bill Murray, provided he is interested in the role. There is one iffy looking inclusion, but hopefully Anderson can get a little more out of Bruce Willis than most of his recent directors have managed. It's A Coming of Age Film ET, Stand By Me, Super 8, The Goonies, Dirty Dancing and Labrynth prove that no matter what genre a film-maker decides to use to tell his story, as long as it's a coming of age story it will still be great. There is something fundamentally appealing about any film that takes a spiritual journey from innocence to realisation and self-discovery, and as long as the younger members of the cast are suited to taking that considerable emotional responsibility Anderson's latest might well follow the trend of those films mentioned. The director's own playful sense of whimsy always seemed perfectly suited to telling coming of age stories, because of the way he seems fascinated with characters developing and the signs are good for this one too. Let's just hope he doesn't push the indie envelope too far and end up making something as universally uninspiring and odd as last year's Restless from Gus Van Sant (which, I actually didn't hate). It's Decidedly "On-Brand" Fans of Wes Anderson will be buoyed by the fact that early looks at Moonrise Kingdom have suggested a film that completely fits the director's canon: innovation isn't always a good thing, and there is certainly comfort for those of us who have loved his earlier projects that the film appears to bear all of the hallmarks of Anderson's own self-confessed signature. The Opening Slot In the past three years we've had Pixar's Up, Ridley Scott's Robin Hood and Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris - all of which have been success stories and great ways to open the festival. Admittedly Wes Anderson does have his detractors, but the festival organisers obviously have enough faith in the film to give it the prestigious opening slot, and that decision puts it in good company in my book. The Trailer Look out for all of our Cannes film festival 2012 coverage starting next week.

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