Starring Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody
Wes Anderson’s latest cinematic creation, “Asteroid City,” takes audiences on a whimsical and visually captivating journey unlike anything seen before. Known for his distinctive style and unique storytelling, Anderson once again delivers a movie filled with his trademark quirkiness, impeccable attention to detail, and a delightful ensemble cast.
Set in a fictional 1950s town in the American West, “Asteroid City” weaves multiple narratives, exploring the lives of its eccentric inhabitants and the attendees of a “Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention” being held there. The film centers around the intertwined stories of three main characters: a recently widowed photojournalist (Jason Schwartzman), his father-in-law (masterfully played by Tom Hanks), and a glamorous movie star (played by Scarlet Johansson) who’s accompanying her science whiz daughter to the convention.
One of the standout aspects of “Asteroid City” is its visual presentation. Anderson’s meticulous eye for detail is evident in every frame, with each scene beautifully composed and shot in that vivid 50s ‘Kodachromatic’ color. The extraordinary production design combines retro elements galore with Anderson’s signature whimsy. Every visual aspect contributes to the film’s atomic-retro atmosphere, from the meticulously crafted sets to the costume detail that looks straight off the pages of a 50s issue of Life Magazine.
The performances in “Asteroid City” are top-notch, as expected from a Wes Anderson film. Tom Hanks brings his understated humor and dry wit to his character. It’s his first role in a very long time where it wasn’t just Tom Hanks playing Tom Hanks. Scarlett Johansson’s performance steals the show, as an actress playing an actress she channels Marilynn Monroe, Lana Turner and other 50s actresses in a way few other actors could manage.
"...this film effortlessly explores concepts of life (terrestrial and extraterrestrial), love and loss, grief and hope."
As with many of Anderson’s films, the screenplay of “Asteroid City” is both quirky and poignant. The dialogue is sharp and witty, peppered with delightful moments of dry humor. Yet, this film effortlessly explores concepts of life (terrestrial and extraterrestrial), love and loss, grief and hope. However, the narrative can sometimes feel slightly disjointed, with multiple storylines competing for attention. While this may be intentional, as this is a story within a story, it may leave some viewers wishing for a more cohesive approach.
The film’s musical score, composed by frequent Anderson collaborator Alexandre Desplat, perfectly complements the on-screen action. The whimsical and melodic tunes add another layer of charm to the film, enhancing the pivotal points in the movie, while a hit parade of Western classics helps set the overall tone.
“Asteroid City” is a delightful and visually stunning addition to Wes Anderson’s filmography. It showcases the director’s unique style and storytelling prowess, inviting audiences into a quirky world filled with memorable characters. While the narrative might feel slightly fragmented, the film’s visual splendor, exceptional performances, and existential themes make it a must-watch for fans of Anderson’s distinct cinematic universe. Though if this is your first Wes Anderson film you might come away a bit underwhelmed.
Not a masterpiece, but Wes Anderson fans will still want to watch this over and over.