Asteroid City

Asteroid City
Original title:Asteroid City
Director:Wes Anderson
Running time:105 minutes
Release date:16 june 2023
Asteroid City is a tiny town in the middle of the desert in the southwestern United States. The year is 1955. The site is most famous for its gigantic meteorite crater and nearby astronomical observatory. This weekend, the military and astronomers welcome five gifted children, distinguished for their scientific creations, to present their inventions. A few miles away, over the hills, you can see atomic mushrooms caused by nuclear testing.

Sabine's Review

If you like crazy characters, stars in the sky and on earth, aliens, absurd and black humor, mise en abyme, technicolor, black and white, tracking shots, theater and the 50s, this movie is for you. The trailer only shows the scenes in Technicolor. This film is a mise en abime. An author wants to stage a play in three acts in the 1950s. This story, the making of the play, is filmed in black and white, in television format. The play takes place in Asteroid City. The movie spectator is then immersed in the play, an imaginary world in Technicolor. Scarlett Johansson plays a blonde actress in the black and white narrative, and a brunette actress in the technicolor world. The spectator switches from one universe to another.

Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola wrote this screenplay that reflects their love of actors, theater, the Actor's Studio. The actors joined this independent film, which give them the opportunity to play both actors and the play's wacky characters. There are the regular collaborators in the Wes Anderson universe: Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Adrian Brody, Edward Norton, and the new ones like Scarlett Johansson and Tom Hanks. Special mention to Scarlett Johansson whose talent and sensuality shine on the screen.

The play tells the Junior Stargazer convention in Asteroid City, a city in the American desert, where the army tests its nuclear weapons, in 1955. Geniuses teenagers, the space cadets, are rewarded there for their inventions. Parents and children get to know each other, in their own world. Everything goes as planned, when an alien bursts in. Quarantine is declared. The film poetically deals with family relationships, teenagers world, difference and mourning. His writing during the Covid-19 pandemic is undoubtedly no stranger to this.

Wes Anderson is a major filmmaker in independent American cinema, whose movies divided the critics. This self-taught director, producer of his films, gradually builds a work with a unique style. With its imaginary universe, Asteroid City is in direct line of his work. Even though the subjects change, the characters are still eccentrics and the families dysfunctional. His direction has a theatricality. The movie is shot on film. The frame alternates static shots in angle-reverse angle, whip pans and travellings. The sets and costumes colors create this unique visual style. The sets of this American city were built in the Spanish desert. Production designer Adam Stockhausen used forced perspective. The mountains are built 300 meters from the motel, and are 6 floors high. The french musci composer Alexandre Desplat composed a hypnotic theme based on two musical notes for the fantasy sequences. Music supervisor Randall Poster unearthed unlikely songs like Freigh Train, whose skiffle style mixes folk, blues, country and jazz. If you like the Wes Anderson style, go for it. If you don't know it, come and find out.

Asteroid City
Written and directed by Wes Anderson
Screenplay from Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola
Produced by Wes Anderson, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson
With Jason Schwartzman, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Jeffrey Wright, Tilda Swinton, Bryan Cranston, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Liev Schreiber, Hope Davis, Stephen Park, Rupert Friend, Maya Hawke, Steve Carell, Matt Dillon, Hong Chau, Willem Dafoe, Margot Robbie, Tony Revolori, Jake Ryan, Jeff Goldblum
Cinematography : Robert Yeoman
Editing: Barney Pilling
Music : Alexandre Desplat
Production companies: American Empirical Pictures, Indian Paintbrush
Distributed by Focus Features (Etats-Unis), Universal Pictures International France (France)
Release date: 23 may 2023 (Cannes), 16 june 2023 (US), 21 june 2023 (France).
Running time : 105 minutes

Seen the 6 of June 2023 at Publicis Cinémas

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