OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe took a trip to Caldbeck, d’ye ken? last night, to the Caldbeck Film Club, a flicks-in-the-sticks set up, where you can watch a movie in the comfort of the village hall without the schlep of being bombarded by advertising, and in the company of like minded folk – at least as far as films are concerned!

 

The film in the frame was Moonrise Kingdom. I had no idea what to expect, and had to think hard afterwards about what I’d experienced! It was introduced with the remark that Bruce Willis, who more or less stars, doesn’t smirk once, and it’s true. Worth watching for that alone, I’d say.

This film is often described as ‘quirky’, which seems to be shorthand for saying that whoever’s using the term doesn’t know how to call it either. It had the quality of a cartoon in some places, that of a graphic novel in others. Montages and set piece shots looked like the frames in a comic book. The incongruity of the scissors, hanging on a wall in the opening trans-interior pan of the Bishop household was not lost on this viewer, and I’m no eagle-eyed observer. And there was a shot near the climax that was almost a photo-still, where four of the main adult characters are head-and-shouldered in the hatchway onto the church roof.

The two leads, a boy of twelve called Sam, and the undisguisedly older Suzy would, in real-world UK – I know nothing of the New England legal system – end up on both the at risk, and sex offenders registers! Both would be well placed too, to arraign each other for sexual misconduct during their twilight years.

There’s violence too. A dog gets it in the neck, which the RSPCA would take a dim view of, and there are various human assaults causing actual, if not grievous, bodily harm by blade and pellet. Most of which, but not all, is adroitly ignored after the moment of action, by the storyteller. This is quite a profound film in some ways, but it is not profoundly realistic.

By turns it reminded me of Swallows & Amazons, Deliverance, and The Blue Lagoon, with a haunting echo of a C17th century play I saw on TV about four decades ago, starring Peter Jeffries and in which two misfits embark on a course of revenge, and love. I can’t remember the name of it, and am too old (or proud?) to look for it on the net!

Behind the innocence of their sexual encounter – Sam: It’s hard. Suzy: I like it. – there lies at the heart of this film the adult longing for sexual innocence. This is neither a film for, nor about children. At Caldbeck we were a mature audience – none of us I think as young as any but two relatively minor characters in the film. That may have accounted for, after a single aborted clap, the silence which greeted the end of the film. There had been chuckles throughout – intriguingly, not at the same time and from different parts of the crowd – so that silence wasn’t about not having enjoyed the film. Was it, I wondered, that we were pondering the adult sub-texts of this ostensibly childlike film? The last time I experienced such a post-projection silence was after a viewing of The Elephant Man!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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