Asteroid City l Review by: Amanda Guarragi
The world has gone through difficult times for the past three years, and people are beginning to understand how it has affected them mentally in its aftermath. Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City acts as an exploration of emotional expression through different perspectives. Hinting at what everyone had gone through during unprecedented times. Apart from being structured as a play within a play, the one location of ‘Asteroid City’ acts as a quarantine space for everyone who gets stuck visiting. On a smaller scale, there is a Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet convention in the city, which brings teens and their parents to this desert space. Anderson’s cooky screenplay and gorgeous symmetrical framing make audiences question almost everything about life.
Like any Anderson film, his style is the most prominent, and the production design is glorious. There is symmetry within the frame that only his pristine eye can capture. Director of Photography Robert D. Yeoman beautifully brings the open desert of Asteroid City to life with a colourful vibrancy that gives off a feeling of the desert heat. The story is intimate and more emotional than Anderson’s previous works, which adds depth to the science competition. The story follows a writer on his world-famous fictional play about a grieving father who travels with his tech-obsessed family to a small rural city awaiting a stargazing event, only to have his world disrupted forever. It was nice to see Jason Schwartzman leading this all-star cast with one of his best performances.
The film explores grief, loneliness, and existentialism that everyone can relate to. However, this script can sometimes be excessive. It was hard to grasp those themes at times. Due to the fast-paced nature of the story, it was hard to keep up with each character’s place within it. The dialogue felt rushed, and difficult to connect to them. Anderson took the criticism of The French Dispatch and made a more straightforward narrative with actors taking on these roles in a play. It ended up being more effective because of the dramaturgy done to have these actors connect with their characters. Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, and Steve Carrell were standouts among the cast because of how their characters were used.
What can be said about Asteroid City is that it’s one of Anderson’s more personal films, and that’s why it’s one of his best! However, if you’re not a fan of his previous work, it’s more of the same and will leave you confused by the end. For some reason, the themes felt surface-level and didn’t work with the overarching story of the science convention. Every character has their issues, and they are all dealing with them in the city, but it is still empty. It may be beautiful to look at because of his style and the production design, but the characters are just moving pieces speaking lines of dialogue without any connection to what they’re saying. For a film to lean on those themes and not express them with emotion didn’t work.
Review by: Amanda Guarragi
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