You can spot his motifs from a mile away: the funky retro-1960s soundtrack laced with a harpsichord score, the deadpan characters, the hysterical absurdist zingers and those adorable dollhouse set pieces.
However, Moonrise Kingdom director Wes Anderson isn’t trying to be cute or obvious when it comes to his unique style on screen.
“When I make a movie, the thing that makes movies like my other movies — all those different things, whatever they are, where someone says, ‘Oh I think I know who did this one’ — those elements are more like my handwriting to me,” explains Anderson, “I’m always directing a movie where I wrote the script with some collaborator and it feels natural for me to do it in my own handwriting.”
In many ways, Anderson’s offbeat cinematic comical rhythm is reminiscent of those 1950s works by absurdist playwrights Eugene Ionesco and Harold Pinter, plays which accentuate immature adults inability to communicate in a domestic setting. Given Anderson’s penchant for dysfunctional family hijinks, particularly in Moonrise Kingdom which finds two star-crossed tweens fleeing their humdrum summery New England days for a life together in the wilderness.
“I certainly have often thought of Pinter, he’s a writer that has always inspired me. (Samuel) Beckett maybe in a more distant way, but I would say Beckett through Pinter is one. The spareness and abstractness of Pinter has always been a real inspiration for me,” points out Anderson.
“If I was doing an adaptation of Dashiell Hammett, I might be working in ways that are less recognizable as my style; I’m not positive about that, but it’s the sort of situation where I don’t force myself to make a movie that’s unlike my other ones. I want to force myself to make the movie as entertaining and as moving as possible,” adds the director.
After receiving rave reviews out of Cannes this year, Focus Features is hoping to keep the party going for Moonrise Kingdom throughout awards season, particularly with hopes of a helming nod for Anderson. Adding fuel to Moonrise Kingdom‘s fire is the fact that the film was a cross-over hit at the summer box office, consistently cracking the domestic top 10 and becoming the director’s second highest-grossing film of all-time at $64.5 million worldwide behind Royal Tenenbaums‘ $71.4 million. While Anderson’s previous films haven’t taken the Academy by storm with multiple noms in a given season, he’s no stranger to the org having notched a 2001 original screenplay nom for Royal Tenenbaums (shared with Owen Wilson) and a 2010 animation nom for Fantastic Mr. Fox.
At the moment, Anderson is busying himself with pre-production on his Grand Budapest Hotel which is set to go into production in Europe right during the heart of Oscar post-nom season in January. While the plot is under wraps, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson are already attached.