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Criticism of ‘Asteroid City’, the magic of Wes Anderson’s actors arrives at Cannes

Wes Anderson presents his new film, ‘Asteroid City’, in Cannes, a beautiful and absurd film set between the theater and the desert… and filmed in Chinchón.

    Wes Anderson only knows how to film love letters. If his first film, ‘Bottle Rocket’, illustrated the endearing criminal dreams of young people with no future in deep America, and the last to date, ‘The French Chronicle’, went to France to honor the work of journalists from street, ‘Asteroid City’, his new work of filmic goldsmithing, settles on the limits of reality to look straight at his own artistic creation.

    The movie –one of the most beautiful and surely the most absurd of Anderson’s career– takes place between two recognizable and at the same time very strange territories. The first is the world of the theater, although filtered by the cathodic, insofar as it is television cameras that show us the ins and outs of a delirious theatrical production. Shot in black and white, this half of the film has its own narrator, a Bryan Cranston who, from a stage turned backstage, presents the different parts of the process of creating a play written by a playwright played by Edward Norton. In this half of the film, in addition to making room for the queerAnderson once again shows off his mastery when it comes to extracting humorous juice from the contrast between the ridiculousness of the situations and the absolute rectitude of his characters, imperturbable, melancholic and brilliant creatures that their creator loves madly.

    And then we have the colorful American desert, where the work written by Norton is supposedly being staged, which consists of a salad of extravagant situations, not necessarily narrative, in which a troupe of child prodigies, a family that has just lost its matriarch, the military establishment, and a sorrowful actress (Scarlett Johansson, turned into a sphinx with lipstick). All these characters are victims of a quarantine caused by the appearance of a hilarious alien creature to which he gives life, from inside a plastic suit, Jeff Goldblum. This half gives us an optimistic portrait of youth, a parody of the America of the 50s (rebuilt in Chinchón) and the entry of Tom Hanks into the Anderson family. And it must be said that Hanks complies with what seems to matter most to the director of ‘Rushmore Academy’: the obligation that his actors and actresses recite their lines at full throttle, sublimating the speed of the comedies of Howard Hawks, Preston Sturges or Billy Wilder. .

    The two halves of ‘Asteroid City’ hold hands from a distance, with the black and white part serving as a back room for the color part. But it’s in the back room, behind the scenes, in the bowels of the play, where Anderson gives meaning to nonsense. Observed with the naked eye, the new film from the creator of ‘The Tenenbaums’ seems the greatest of whims. However, when the playwright played by Norton meets his family of actors, it is already impossible not to see in ‘Asteroid City’ a moving self-portrait of Anderson’s and his actors’ commitment to stage creation. In fact, viewing ‘Asteroid City’ awakened in this critic the memory of films by Jacques Rivette or Matías Piñeiro, creators of closed, very theatrical universes, in which life is seen in the mirror of art.

    ‘Asteroid City’ has something of a self-indulgent exercise. But what genius can get rid of that sin? In the best scene of the film, the playwright (Norton) tries to inspire his actors by asking them to play sleeping people. In a moment of collective trance, the group begins to shout, in unison, a crazy slogan: “You can’t wake up if you don’t fall asleep!”. Fired up, the screen abuzz with the dreamy passion of Anderson, who continues to make movies with the sole aim of having fun and instilling some happiness in our hearts.

    For those who understand cinema as a (perennial) search for happiness

    The best: the self-reflexive dimension of the film.

    The worst: the love stories are not at the usual romantic level that Anderson usually shows off.


    Address: Wes Anderson Distribution: Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Margot Robbie, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton Country: USA Year: 2023 Release date: 16–6-2023 Gender: Comedy Script: Wes AndersonRoman Coppola Duration: 104 min.

    Synopsis: In 1955, schoolchildren and parents from all over the country gather for a school contest dedicated to the observation of astronomical phenomena (Junior Stargazer Convention) that takes place in a fictional city in the American desert called Asteroid City. The convention will be spectacularly interrupted by world-changing events.

    asteroid city

    Source: Fotogramas

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