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Wes Anderson’s (A Life Aquatic, The Royal Tenebaums) latest continues his now trademark fractured families and kookiness, but reins in the whimsy for funny and throws in crowd-pleasing drama in a tale of young love.

Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) are two kids on a quiet New England island. Sam’s an orphan, unpopular with his peers, and Suzy is deeply misunderstood by her family, from whom she is withdrawn.

The two embark on a pen pal relationship that blossoms into something more, and as they run away together, a search party – comprising Edward Norton’s Scout Master Ward and scout troupe, Bruce Willis’ gruff police Captain Sharp, Bill Murray and Frances McDormand’s warring parents, and Tilda Swinton’s ‘Social Services’ – is launched.

Opening with a panning shot through a house reminiscent of the Belafonte’s introduction in Aquatic, there’s no mistaking this is an Anderson flick; his static camera, offset by stylised pans and zooms and his quirks and colourful costumes illuminates. Y

et where willful eccentricty often overtook story and drama before, here broad humour (Norton and Harvey Kietel in adult scout uniforms, for one) and a tale with real emotional resonance are introduced. Sam and Suzy, the lovelorn delinquents, genuinely affect, and there are countless winning one-liners and hilarious touches.

It’s Anderson’s most accessible and satisfying film to date – where he was more likely to raise wry smirks before, here the laughs come from the belly.

Good for: Seeing Anderson marry his winning whimsy with heart. 4 out of 5 stars. 

Starring Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton | 12A | 96mins


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