Sam Shkusky is an orphan and a Khaki Scout. His troop is attending a performance of Benjamin Britten's "Noye's Fludde" (foreshadowing!) when his restlessness gets the better of him and he gets up and wanders through the building, eventually ending up in the girl's dressing room, where he locks eyes with Suzy Bishop. Before he is returned to his seat by his troop, she slips him her address and asks him to write. They do, for a year, and Sam plans an escape. He asks her to join him. She does, bringing everything a girl needs when running away - a suitcase full of books and a battery operated record player. His Scout Master and her parents find out they are missing and the search begins while a hurricane brews off the coast.
The kids who play Sam and Suzy are played as if they were children imagining they are adults. They end up in a cove where Sam pitches camp. They swim and dance and share a first kiss. They are in love in the way only young people seem to be able to be in love - the rest of the world doesn't exist for them. The actor who plays Sam (Jared Gilman) is a little mush-mouthed, but he exudes a confidence that he can handle any problems that come their way - unless it involves swimming, because he's not a very strong swimmer. Suzy (Kara Hayward) looks at the world through her binoculars, but when she puts them down, she has a thousand yard stare that it would be unsettling to be at the other end of.
Standout performances in the movie are from Ed Norton as Scout Master Ward and Bruce Willis as the police chief. They both are sensitive and subtle and sad, but are redeemed in the end.
The music of the movie is mainly classical - excerpts from Britten's Noye's Fludde and Midsummer Night's Dream, selections from A Young Person's Guide to the Symphony, with a little mid-60's French pop music as well as a good helping of Hank Williams.
I've been a fan of Wes Anderson since Bottle Rocket. While his movies
are criticized for being twee and precious, I think despite the
artificiality of the worlds that he creates, there is genuine emotion
and feeling present. This movie has the look and feel of childhood
remembered - there is a washed-out, Instagram quality to the picture.
The story takes place on and island off the coast of New England, and
the characters at the start of movie are all islands unto themselves.
Suzy has a violent streak; Sam just doesn't fit in (although when it
comes down to it, no one can quite figure out why they don't like him,
although I suspect it's because he doesn't seem to care what anyone
thinks of him). Suzy's mother is disconnected from her family - she
calls the kids to meals with an airhorn - but has some kind of sad
affair going on with the police chief; the police chief put his love
life on hold for the woman he loved who married another, and lives a sad
and lonely life; Suzy's father seems to suffer from ennui as he lazes
around the house reading books. By the end of the movie, connections are
made, bridges between these islands that won't be washed out by any