By Sruja Peruka
Filmed on an ARRICAM ST 35 mm film camera, Asteroid City follows a fictional desert town that holds a convention for stargazers, and space cadets along with their parents who come together for a scholarly competition that is interrupted by a world-changing encounter.
Asteroid City was a sweet movie directed by Wes Anderson and included a jampacked cast of Hollywood’s finest as a widowed war photographer (Jason Schwartzman), an actress (Scarlett Johansson), science nerds, a teacher (Maya Hawk), a motel manager (Steve Carnell), cowboys, witches, vampires, a play writer (Edward Norton), a director (Adrian Brody) and even more.
It was a light-hearted film that stood out from its themes and cinematography.
There are two narratives that tie the story together, a black-and-white taping of a nameless character narrating the play being made to the play being acted out.
The story follows a fast pace with a run time of 1hr and 45 minutes like most of Anderson’s films, to keep up with the storyline, which can be a bit of whiplash but doesn’t leave out any details.
Often dialogue would follow the next scene to still feel as if the viewers are hearing conversations from different parts of the convention as if you are passing by from the luncheon to the communal showers which is often a set piece used by the characters. I thought that was a neat detail they included as it is still a theatrical play and often in theater productions you can hear characters talking from the curtains. It truly felt like I was watching a stage play.
It still holds onto Anderson’s use of technical work from set design, and camera work to color grading that’s easily distinguished as Anderson’s film style. Recently, there was a trend on social media to recreate daily tasks in a comical Wes Anderson style that goes to show how impressionable or some would say iconic his movies are.
Over-saturated colors typical of 1950s decor, symmetrical angles, and even a miniature of a train in place of an actual train given that the town was fictional and had to be built from scratch were a few of the techniques used in the film. Another layer I loved was the incorporation of stop-motion for a portion of the film which added a bit of unsettling flare.
For anyone watching one of Anderson’s movies for the first time, they’ll wonder why the delivery of the dialog is rather… flat. Well, that’s another trademark to his movies, all characters hold a more repressive tone and are emotionless but still do a good job in this film to keep the story afloat when introducing themes of this movie such as love, grief, or family.
Although the setting and scene are somewhat science fiction, what draws me to his movies, particularly, is the ounce of heart that comes with the dialogue discussing loss or connections and the kid’s point of view, who often out-smart the adults, that most of us could relate to the unnecessary need to call us out through the screen is just a little bit of reality compared to the rest of the film. The movie scored a 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, 7.1 on IMDB, and 4 ½ stars on Letterboxd.
Though there were some mixed reviews, I’d say this movie is good for casual viewing or for Wes Anderson fans. (This might be a little hard to convince your friends to watch.) Although many prefer his previous films like Grand Budapest Hotel or Fantastic Mr. Fox over his latest movie, I’d say this is one of its own and should be judged on its own so I’d say it’s still a cute little film to consider watching this Summer. I rate this film a 4 out of 5 stars!
Sixteen-year-old Sruja Peruka’s journey to Texas Metro News began with her passion for cinema.