Asteroid City is (obviously) a fictional one, in the middle of the desert, a sort of suburbia that is not actually attached to any big capital or even a small town and it becomes immediately obvious that, for a story set in the middle of such vast expanses, the film is meant as Wes Anderson's lockdown story and being stuck within some confines in an endless, repetitive loop. Indeed the storyline involves a quarantine element and the desert here might as well be walls since the characters seem trapped in a timeless place.
The main storyline is a coming of age does not carry the weight it should despite the nerdy summer camp vibes and all the narrative strands feel a bit unfocused which has the unfortunate of making all the usually wonderfully stylised elements a bit indulgent since they are not at the service of a strong script this time. There is a story within a story framing device that gives the film its loveliest scene with Margot Robbie at the end but that feels so detached from the rest and makes you wish you were actually watching that film instead.
Among the ensemble cast, Tom Hanks is a new addition yet is not given anything particularly interesting to do (and neither is Wes Anderson's regular Tilda Swinton, which is a shame) and only Scarlett Johansson emerges, giving her character some depth and an affecting vampish melancholia.
Asteroid City is one that only Wes Anderson fans might enjoy and even them might feel let down.
Review by Laurent de Alberti
Official Selection, in Competition
Asteroid City. Directed by Wes Anderson. Starring Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hanks, Tilda Swinton...