Asteroid City review: Wes Anderson's latest film is to be enjoyed more than understood

Karishma Jangid
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Asteroid City review: A movie to be enjoyed more than understood

Wes Anderson's latest film 'Asteroid City' comes bearing all the hallmarks of the distinguished director with a complex yet fun story.

“What’s the point?” “There’s no point. You just gotta keep telling the story. You’re doing it right.” This conversation from Wes Anderson’s latest film “Asteroid City,” sums up the film. Even if the script leaves you puzzled, Anderson knows how to tell his story right, or at least in a manner unique to him. As for die-hard Anderson fans, this is a treat as the director comes bearing all his hallmarks in a fulfilling combination.

Sit tight! The story is complex. A retrofuturistic movie (an assumed future displayed in a bygone era), Asteroid City shows a story within a story. ‘Asteroid City,’ the play is being helmed by playwright Conrad Earp (Edward Norton). Within the play, war photographer and a recent widower Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman) takes his son Woodrow (Jake Ryan), and three adorable daughters to the Junior Stargazer convention at Asteroid City. When his car breaks down, Augie calls his father-in-law Stanley (Tom Hanks) to his rescue as he informs his children about their mother’s death. Joining the convention are also, famous but lonely actress Midge Campbell (Scarlet Johansson) and her daughter Dinah (Grace Edwards). When an alien visits Asteroid City, the city is put under lockdown, bringing together multiple characters and their curiosity for meaning, if there is one.

Schwartzman and Johansson own the movie as they become their characters - two bad parents and lonely people with different yet gloomy approaches to life. The cast is star-studded - Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Bryan Cranston, Norton, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Steve Carell, Ryan, Grace Edwards, Sophia Lillis, Ethan Josh Lee, and others. All the actors, distinct yet similar, come together in a choreographed rhythm and keep you on your toes with a tight script that delves into themes like loneliness, parenting, belonging, and more. The film’s strength lies in its characters and their arcs.

Asteroid City proves why creators on Instagram got the Wes Anderson trend wrong. Only he can bring about the unique flavour of his films with his frames separated regularly in two, a restricted but aesthetic colour palette, symmetrical shots, a restricted but gliding camera, and each movement choreographed to precision. The story doesn’t amount to much in the end, though. The parts are better than the sum here. Perhaps this explains why the film is more for Anderson fans than for others. Some films are to be enjoyed rather than understood. 

The film is currently streaming in theatres.

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Willem Dafoe Steve Carell Tom Hanks Scarlett Johansson Bryan Cranston Wes Anderson Grace Edwards Jeffrey Wright Adrien Brody asteroid city Jason Schwartzman Sophia Lillis Ethan Josh Lee