FNE at Cannes 2023: Competition: Asteroid City (USA)

    Asteroid City by Wes Anderson Asteroid City by Wes Anderson source: Cannes FF Press Materials

    CANNES: Asteroid City is the third film of American scriptwriter and director Wes Anderson to screen in competition in Cannes. His Moonrise Kingdom screened in competition in Cannes in 2012 and his COVID-delayed The French Dispatch about a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th century French city screened in Cannes in 2021.

    While the director has yet to score a win in Cannes his unique narrative style, eccentricity and quirky visual style have made him a darling of the European festival circuit and his previous films have notched up a number of Academy Award and Golden Globes nominations. His Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) starring Ralph Fiennes in arguably one of his best ever performances was nominated for an Oscar for Best Director and Best Picture and won the Golden Globe that year for Best Picture.

    So hopes for Asteroid City are running high. Anderson’s high reputation as possible one of American’s only living auteur directors has given him access to all star famous name casts that the budget of his films might not otherwise allow, as Hollywood stars love to work with him. Working with ensemble casts he has put together another great group of famous names for Asteroid City including Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody and Jeff Goldblum. Many of them are Anderson regulars who have appeared in his other films.

    Anderson hails from Texas and the film is in a meticulously created 1950s town in the USA Southwest desert. While highly stylised as are all Anderson’s creations there is a feeling of more authenticity here in Asteroid City than in most of his imaginary locations. Asteroid City has a meteor crater and an astronomical observatory and it is about to host the 1955 Junior Stargazer convention. 

    Among the scientists and parents from around the USA are Augie Steenbeck played by Jason Schwartzman and Midge Campbell played by Scarlett Johansson. But things start to get whacky fast when extra-terrestrials show up for the event. Wes Anderson has fun with UFOs and he beautifully combines science-fiction with a love story. The plot seems to get a bit lost of actors pretending to be playing actors and some sub-plots that might not have been necessary but the over vision is sure to please his fans especially when set to music by Alexandre Desplat who he also cooperated with previously.

    Asteroid City (USA)
    Directed by Wes Anderson
    Cast: Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jake Ryan, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Hong Chau, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Grace Edwards, Aristou Meehan, Sophia Lillis, Jeff Goldblum