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Asteroid City

average rating is 4 out of 5


Brian Penn


Posted on:

Jun 24, 2023

Film Reviews
Asteroid City
Directed by:
Wes Anderson
Written by:
Wes Anderson, Roman Coppla
Jason Schwartzman, Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton

Wes Anderson is without doubt one of the most distinctive filmmakers of his generation. A slavish devotion to light, sound and colour is a marque of the man and his approach. Throw in some whimsical storytelling and a subtle hint of comedy then the appropriate boxes are duly ticked. Asteroid City easily satisfies this benchmark and is one of his best films.


Asteroid City lies on the dust tracks of the Nevada Desert and owes its existence to the aforementioned rock that once fell in the area. With a population of 87 the expected tourist expansion hasn’t quite materialised; roads have been left half built and real estate is sold from a vending machine. One of the few attractions is a stargazing event and the occasional atom bomb test. A gloriously mixed bag of characters pass through, more by accident than design and are caught in a strange turn of events. Everything is seen through the prism of a 1955 TV show broadcasting a play entitled Asteroid City.


The film switches between monochrome and colour to distinguish between narration and action. The host (Bryan Cranston) pops up in the style of Ed Morrow with calm and assured guidance; he introduces writer Conrad Earp (Edward Norton) and they explain the play for the benefit of an expectant audience. In colour the characters of the piece emerge in all their dysfunctional glory.

Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzman) is travelling with his four children following the death of his wife. The car breaks down and Augie has to ask his father-in-law Stanley (Tom Hanks) to come and meet them. They rest up in a local motel and have a cabin next door to Midge Campbell (Scarlett Johansson), an actor whose mood swings comply with standard Hollywood rules of behaviour. The stargazing event is subject to an alien visitation and everything goes into lockdown.


It’s a beautifully constructed film with a ridiculously talented cast that create an ensemble most directors can only dream about. It plugs into a stream of paranoia that was so prevalent in America during the 1950s. Roswell gave birth to a raft of conspiracy theories at the time. This story alights on the government’s desire to control any alien related incident. It’s a delightful film that begs to be seen on the big screen.

About the Film Critic
Brian Penn
Brian Penn
Theatrical Release
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