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Manuel de Layet [Film Festival 05.17.12] comedy drama romance

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Love. Feuds. Blood. In a place surrounded by water, and involving young teens. Sounds a bit like old Bill's Romeo & Juliet doesn't it? Now add scouts, movie icons Bruce Willis and Bill Murray, and a bucket of wheat paste. That's basically the core of Wes Anderson latest achievement.

If you're not sold already with these introductory lines, I’m not really sure I can manage to convince you to go and see this with any length of an article.

This is the story of Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward), running away from their respective environments to be free of their social stigmata and enjoy their new-found love in the wilderness of a remote New England island. It's already quite a task for a grown-up couple in our time, our heroes being around twelve years old all the odds are basically against them. Their disappearance will launch an island-wide rescue party in which Island Police Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) will coordinate the efforts of the Khaki-scouts, Sam's closest thing to a family, and Suzy's parents, Mr&Mrs Bishop (Bill Murray and Frances Mcdormand). This is also a tale of Romance so mighty the heavens themselves will break open and unleash their fury against the world, a meteorological emphasis to the passion in the hearts of Sam and Suzy.

Around this wonderful depiction of what we cynic adults call "puppy-love", as ever forgetting how gripping and seemingly everlasting these first feelings were for ourselves, we have Anderson's trademark offbeat humour and absurd settings.

To me, one of the hallmarks of a good comedy is to take a familiar setting and shift the focus just enough to create a chasm, actually sweeping reality underfoot. Here it's achieved with an inversion of the adult/child stereotypes. Adults are irresponsible and children act with a kind of deeply concerned maturity. All the jokes and gag-scenes revolve around that particular hinge, and creative surroundings such as the highest tree-house of world, hand built wood-and-string operated toilets and some demented 60s furniture and clothing. These mixed with the savage nature of Rhode Island give the whole a strange and musty feel, oscillating between eerie and strangely poetic.

Same approach goes for the way the scenes are shot. Each one featuring the children is almost nouvelle vague in its approach, all the courtship and romance is shot like the best romcoms of that time. Adding to that the frantic search for the young couple interlocks with it just enough to let the whole emotion business build-up steadily.

Oh, I haven't talked about the whole scout business.

Well, as far as corny settings go, Scouts were an under-exploited niche, this is not the case any more. In all their badges, silly rules, fur hats and felt patches glory, lead by no less that Edward Norton, the Kahki Scouts are there to save the day and teach you the least helpful survival tricks ever.

Did I mention there were Bruce Willis and Bill Murray in this? Even if I did, this cannot be stressed enough. I'm from a generation for whom those two names can sell anything. And on that topic I might point out that you'll find them both a little in the background, the story is not theirs. Even if they are sometime just a supporting cast, there are still memorable scenes with them. I might even go as Lumberjack-Murray next Halloween.

So, in a nutshell: This was the best entertainment I had in the past weeks cinematographically speaking and I'm sure a whole new trend of Scout-Fetish can, and surely will, arise once this one hits the theatres.

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