“Asteroid City”


Metacritic (2/10), Letterboxd (1/5), Imdb.com (2/10), TMDB.com (1/5)

Writer-director Wes Anderson has lost his way, and this film proves it. I realize that the auteur’s signature style of filmmaking is an acquired taste, and, to his credit, he’s made some fine pictures over the years. But this one is not among them. In fact, contrary to many of the inexplicable claims that this is his finest release, I’d contend just the opposite. It’s arguably his worst, a meandering, cryptic, unfocused piece that’s so muddled you’ll need the assistance of a search party to find your way out of it (that is, if you even care by the time the end of this overlong mess rolls around). The director appears to have become so enamored with his own eccentricity that it doesn’t even seem to matter to him whether or not viewers are on the same page as he is. Admittedly, this offering once again captures Anderson’s singularly stylish look with a stunning production design and gorgeous cinematography. But that’s all it has going for it, and that’s unfortunate given the phenomenal cast he has available to him. What’s more, despite his proficiency in creating superb visual style, he’s forgotten about pairing it with meaningful (or even interesting) substance. Its incomprehensibility and inclusion of bits that are there just for the sake of their own whimsy seriously undercut any effort to make this an intelligible work. In short, “Asteroid City” is yet another major disappointment in what is turning out to be a dreadfully dismal summer movie season. It’s likely to appeal only to diehard fans of the director (and maybe not even a lot of them this time out). If you’re on the fence about this one, consider the following two telling tipoffs: (1) when no one in the theater is laughing at what’s been billed as a comedy, that should speak volumes about it (as happened at the screening I attended); and (2) when you consider how aggressively and ubiquitously the distributors have been promoting this film in ads on TV and the internet, it’s obvious they’re trying awfully hard to peddle shabby, substandard merchandise. This is a huge waste of time and money; don’t squander yours.