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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "Asteroid City"


Normally, it’s kind of an odd thing to review a Wes Anderson movie. His style is so different from just about anything out there that even “grading on a curve” is not the terminology that evaluating his work that does the way I try to see it. For moviegoers, he is one of the most polarizing figures to sit in the director’s chair with both his staunch supporters and haters in consistent droves. He is unapologetically not for everyone, but with Asteroid City, he may be closer to closing that gap but not for the reason you may think.


His visual style and cadence within his live-action films continue to be on display here in the tale of a small Southwestern US city in the 1950s that gathers a group of people from all different walks of life for a three-day gathering of stargazing that turns into so much more on a couple of different levels. Right off the bat, any thoughts that could be taken from the trailers seem to turn itself on its head, not only taking me off-guard but changing my expectations for what I was about to watch. With his longtime writing collaborator in Roman Coppola, this particular script has more layers that intertwine than most of his previous projects and does so on a level that kept me interested throughout. He also assembles a cast of regulars, legends, and newcomers that add a fresh coat of paint to his works including Scarlett Johansson, Jason Schwartzman, Steve Carell, Tilda Swinton, Jeffrey Wright, Maya Hawke, Matt Dillon, and Tom Hanks. (This cast list literally goes on and on, so if you are that invested check out the IMDb page for it.) Amongst all of this is Jake Ryan as the son of Schwartzman’s character. His is one of the key characters in Asteroid City and brings Woodrow “Brainiac” Steenbeck to life in a way that truly stands tall in a cast of giants. It is truly hard to say that his family’s arc is the main one, but for the most part, the film takes place focusing on them as they travel from town to town. Each actor seems to understand Anderson and his vision very well, and for those new to his stable of actors seem to have studied him very closely in their performances and the true ensemble nature of almost all of his films.


The thing that sets this film apart from others I have seen of Anderson’s is the level of humor. A lot of his works tend to look to “snooty” types of jokes that play above the room, but with Asteroid City he works more on-the-level with moments that are more identifiable than a LOT of what has come before it. The characters still seem a bit high brow (even the ones that are not written that way), but that also seems to play into the humor itself.


Whether you respect Anderson for his refusal to compromise who he is or what his art is meant to be or admonish his stubbornness in the same vein, Asteroid City is a film that actually shows a bit of growth for him. I still prefer the animated work he has done with films like The Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs, but this film is one that is pretty close to the top of my list of most enjoyable from him.

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