A film by Wes Anderson. In English with German subtitles.
Like Richard Linklater in APOLLO 10 ½ Wes Andersons ASTEROID CITY explores a mythical Space Age that dreamt of a bright future very different from the present.
Wes Anderson, in the vein similar to David Lynch, makes films for himself and an audience that has already fallen for his aesthetic and his quirky stories and characters.
Just like in his past films, the plot is a Russian nesting doll of interlacing layers: the camera films a recording of a TV program about the genesis of a play and the difficulties and obstacles that need to be overcome by the premiere, but the core of the film is the plot of the play itself. The props are delivered by a freight train during the opening credits, and the camera avoids any lateral movements which could reveal that the entire world is actually just a paper mache facade.
At its core, the film is about a gathering of different people in the year 1955 in a small desert town to commemorate the anniversary of the asteroid impact that gave the city its name. The highlight is a rare astral event and in addition to this, the best of a small group of junior scientists will be selected. For them it‘s an opportunity to be around similarly nerdy peers while their parents can talk to each other about what it‘s like having children that are somewhat strange. All the generations feel lost and alienated from their earthly lives and desperately want there to be something in the stars that will give them meaning. Augie Steenbeck (Jason Schwartzmann), for example, is devastated by the death of his wife and hasn‘t been able to tell his children about it, to the displeasure of his father-in-law Stanley (Tom Hanks). Augie can only open up to his pavilion neighbor, film star Midge Campbel (Scarlett Johansson), who has also lost her orientation due to a painful loss. When an alien (Jeff Goldblum) unexpectedly lands during the ceremony, it leads to a lockdown as instructed by the president as opposed to a meaningful impetus. But luckily, they can turn to the writer or director of this play at that point, and if the creators can‘t help either, they go one step further, to the front of the theater, maybe there will be somebody who can say something helpful there. Or they can just not worry and see what happens next. Sooner or later, the problem will solve itself.
With all of its existentialist considerations, ASTEROID CITY is actually a sweet and thoroughly optimistic declaration of love to the version of the 1950s where there was still hope for a better future in space and nuclear power and everything, yes everything, could be bought from a vending machine. The film is carried by a spectacular cast that have either already been in other Anderson films (Tilda Swinton as a confused astronomer) or will hopefully pop up again (Steve Carell as the unshakeable hotel manager). Since there‘s nothing to ‘comprehend‘ besides its personal emotional resonance, which Wes Anderson films often evoke, ASTEROID CITY is a cineastic gift that gives a cozy feeling of happiness in many shades.
Christian Klose | indiekino
Translation: Elinor Lewy
US 2023, 104 Min., engl. OmU
Regie & Buch: Wes Anderson
Kamera: Robert D. Yeoman
Schnitt: Barney Pilling
mit: Tom Hanks, Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Ed Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Rupert Friend, Maya Hawke, Steve Carell, Margot Robbie, Matt Dillon, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Rita Wilson