Though he occasionally rises above it, Wes Anderson’s real great talent is in actively, counter-intuitively preventing an emotional connection between character and audience. I have never seen anyone work so hard to undermine his own ostensible goals. In spite of the delight his twee aesthetic elicits from his fan base, Anderson’s characters tend to be lifeless props populating meticulously constructed dioramas which were designed to be admired from the outside.
If being emotionally impenetrable truly is what he’s after, Moonrise Kingdom may be Anderson’s masterpiece. By the time it’s over, none of its carefully costumed characters have transcended mere archetype, and every moment has reinforced the endeavor’s superficiality from multiple angles, be they deliberately wooden performances, cartoonish non-sequiturs, or cinematography consisting of almost exclusively one-point perspective.
Film exists in two dimensions, and the filmmaker’s challenge is to give their work a third. Wes Anderson seems to revel in limiting himself to just two.