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  • Writer's pictureEugene

Asteroid City (2023)

Gathered around the glowing green meteorite created by our constantly creative Karen, we considered this 1993 Wes Anderson film, set in a retro-futuristic vision of the 1950s.  The hall had been emptier than usual, possibly the rest of the audience had been kidnapped by aliens. Our discussion was well attended.


One person in our discussion thought this was a Marmite film. This led to a spread of views. There were parts we loved, elements that were over our heads, aspects that took us back to our childhood, moments that caught our attention and times we found it hard to focus.  We were positive, as well as occasionally irritated.  It’s one of those layered films that really needs a couple of viewings to do it justice. We didn’t agree with Mark Kermode’s use of the word “smug” to describe it in his highly critical review.


The point was made that the characters were puppets of the writer and Wes Anderson’s style of detachment meant that their path appeared to be inconsequential and flat. Moral dilemmas were not explored. Its message was very bleak, with powerless people at risk from an unknown power. The spirit of Jean-Paul Sartre was there. Having said that, the theme fitted COVID-19 times. Wes Anderson favourite Bill Murray, set to appear in it, had even fallen victim to the virus.


What was not to love about the design, a unique selling point of Wes Anderson’s films?  We soaked in the beauty of the visuals and the warming, sumptuous desert colours, contrasted with the crisp black and white scenes. No wonder the Accidentally Wes Anderson fans try to source locations and buildings which reflect his whimsical style.  


Of course, the ensemble cast strutted their stuff impeccably in this dreamy setting. Scarlett Johannson’s Marilyn Monroe style actress was particularly appreciated. The unique characters all seemed to have “some flavour of neurodivergence”.


We also shared our memories of dark skies we had experienced in our lives and the wonder of seeing the Milky Way so crystal clear. Tanzania, Bolivia and Arizona’s beautiful skies were mentioned.  


Everyone valued the spadework our discussion leader had put in for the discussion, watching all of Wes’s films. We all agreed that talking about this film, which is mystifying in some ways, helped us to understand it. We went off to fall asleep and wake up.



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