Another idea of the movie is that it’s not just a movie. A black-and-white prologue featuring Bryan Cranston as the scowling narrator informs us that we’re about to see a Broadway play. But we won’t actually be seeing the play, but rather a television show about the making of the play, which means the main desert scenes are separated from the viewer by too many contrivances to count. Just as the tentative romance between the photographer and the movie star heats up, a card appears on the screen telling you which scene of which act you’re watching, or else the narrator will accidentally stray into the location or the action. switches back to a black-and-white world where playwright Edward Norton is auditioning for actor Schwartzman and director Adrien Brody is living in a theater because of his divorce from his wife Hong Chau. Oh, and Margot Robbie, Jeff Goldblum and Willem Dafoe also make appearances, the joke is that Anderson is able to get these A-listers to appear even when he gives them next to nothing to do. At no point does it allow us to settle into either narrative.
Yes, Asteroid City is brilliant and fun, and yes, it’s as meticulously designed as ever, but this baffling pile of postmodernism seems to test the patience of the director’s fans—to see just how far he can venture from human emotion and into the arc. , a self-congratulatory whimsy before they give it up. For the first time in his career, he ventured too far for me.
Do you like movies and TV? Join BBC Cultural Film and TV Club on Facebook, in the community of cinephiles living all over the world.
And if you liked this story, sign up for the weekly newsletter featuring bbc.com services, called The Essential List. A curated selection of BBC Future, Culture, Worklife and Travel stories delivered to your inbox every Friday.