By Emma-Louise Duffy
Emma-Louise is a new addition to BLIK, joining the team for the newly created position of Community coordinator. Emma-Louise is a second year of Media and Culture studies at Utrecht University and has a keen interest in all things film, television, and social media. A bit of a bookworm, addicted to her camera and hailing from the island of Ireland, she is enjoying her experience as an international student in the Netherlands.
Asteroid City is a deeply metaphorical meta narrative. Wes Anderson employs an idiosyncratic framing device that unlike previous works, does not seamlessly blend together. Instead, it has a distinctly disjointed feel that may be puzzling but overall acts as a bridge between what art is, how art is made and what is its purpose.
In the opening moments of the film, the audience is confronted with the statement that “Asteroid City does not exist. It is an imaginary drama created expressly for the purposes of this broadcast. The characters are fictional, the text hypothetical, the events an apocryphal fabrication.” It is this introduction that alerts us to the fact that Asteroid City and the characters within it, are the handywork of a televised play brought into existence by a writer who is grappling with meaning seeking and finding purpose. On the other hand, Asteroid City is set at the heart of a 1950’s American dessert town. The occupants of which are revaluating their purpose of existence during a government enforced lock down that comes after some unexpected extra-terrestrial activity.
Each scene is arranged to be strikingly elegant visually. Which in addition to the intentional manner of how the plot is revealed, ensures that the film fervently reflects Wes Anderson’s experimentation with storytelling as a form. With a mournful atmosphere that is at odds with the bright zany colour palette, Asteroid City feels suspiciously reminiscent of recent history in our world…. “If you wanted to live a nice, quiet, peaceful life, you picked the wrong time to get born”.
There is an aspect of alienation to be experienced as one attempts to piece together the parts of the puzzle and simultaneously peel back the many layers of this modern, some might say shallow, some might say wise, work that reflects a state of humanity in crisis. At a time where questioning the meaning of life feels as precarious as the state of the world and an ever-threatening societal collapse, the movie through all of its embodied quirkiness explores themes such as repressed grief and greater purpose "This is a chance to actually be worthwhile in our lifetimes!" Asteroid City is as unsettling as it is flamboyant, and while it deliberately leaves some questions unanswered it offers at least a nugget of hope: "It's all worthwhile," "Your curiosity is your greatest asset. Trust it." Do not worry however, if this all feels a bit head spinning, as the final take away from the movie is this, even if you do not understand it "That doesn't matter. Just keep on telling the story.
This was a review written for the exclusive movie preview viewed on Sunday 18th of June, ahead of the June 22nd Dutch release date thanks to Cineville NL and Lab-1 cinema Eindhoven.