Film Review

Asteroid City

todayJuly 6, 2023 145

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By – Nick Adrian

For fans of Wes Anderson, 50s sci-fi, and Wile E. Coyote/Road Runner cartoons

There are only a few household name directors whose new film releases still feel like a major event, and Wes Anderson is a prime example. His unique and singular style (that’s been the source of inspiration for many a TikToker as of late – but don’t tell him that) only improves with each new effort, readily showcased in his 50s-set sci-fi dramedy Asteroid City.

The film tells the story in the form of an old television show, depicting a stage play (of the same title) that focuses on a group of Junior Stargazers and their families as they are forced to quarantine after an extraterrestrial sighting. The film also focuses on the creation of the play as well as the actors participating in it (all playing dual roles – their “actor” characters and their “fictional” characters). As the characters in the play grow throughout the runtime, so do the actors portraying them. And grow they do, as this might be the most tender, examinative, and personal film from the auteur since The Darjeeling Limited.

In what might come to be known as “typical Andersonian fashion,” Asteroid City is layered metatextually, weaving back and forth from the creative process of writing and putting on a play to the performance of the play itself. In doing this, Anderson doesn’t repeat many of his common conventions of style, but instead builds upon them. From the layered storylines, the cinematography, staging, lighting, all the way down to the dialogue, he continues to innovate and improve his form in ways that are completely unexpected – and impossible to imitate.

It’s a perfect summer treat for the Wes Anderson fan but might intimidate newcomers unfamiliar or overwhelmed by his style.

Asteroid City is playing at the Sidewalk Cinema until July 13. Get tickets at sidewalkfest.com/tickets.

Written by: Nick Adrian

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