Twee-virtuoso Wes Anderson is back with a trailer for his latest film, Asteroid City. This new project is a departure from his usual relationship-centric postmodern stories seen in The French Dispatch, The Royal Tenenbaums, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Asteroid City is just as hyper-stylized as ever, but this time he’s stepping out from his contained plots and looking toward the stars. The trailer shows that Anderson can put his pastel-clad touch on just about anything, including the science-fiction theme of his latest film.
The plot follows a widowed father (played by Rushmore’s Jason Schwartzman) and his children in the mid 1950s. Their car breaks down in a peculiar, fictionalized American desert town. While he waits for father-in-law (Tom Hanks) to arrive and help, they check out the local Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet Convention, where they meet a whole cast of space-curious children celebrating “Asteroid Day,” the anniversary of when a small asteroid hit the fictional town in 3007 B.C.
The Junior Stargazer/Space Cadet Convention is interrupted by the presence of a huge explosion and mushroom cloud, the ominous beginning to an extra-terrestrial visit. Once the president is alerted of the alien invasion, he requires all residents and visitors in Asteroid City to stay within the town boundaries indefinitely.
As the trailer continues, we see the alien presence is making a big impact on the folks of Asteroid City. Some characters take solace in the knowledge that there’s life beyond our big blue planet, “Sometimes I think I’d feel a little more at home outside the earth’s atmosphere,” says Grace Edward’s character. For other characters, the alien visit opened the opportunity to contemplate life, humanity, and their relationships under the threat of demise.
“[The alien] looked at us like we’re doomed,” Jason Schwartzman’s unnamed character says to Scarlett Johansson’s Midge Campbell. “Maybe we are.”
Though the subject matter may be new, fans of Anderson’s works should still expect the deadpan delivery, stunning cinematics, and pastiche nostalgia he is known for. In line with his signature look, the art design is streamlined but schmaltzy, simple but strategic. The trailer of Asteroid City shows that Anderson is ready to take on new topic material while staying true to the traits that made him famous.
Asteroid City stars a lot of Anderson’s favorite faces including Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton and many others. The film also stars a soon-to-be regular Wes Anderson addition, Timothée Chalamet and newcomer Maya Hawke, daughter of actors Uma Thurman and Ethan Hawke.
Asteroid City will be premiering at the 76th Cannes Film Festival in May. There will be a limited theatrical release on June 16, before the global release of the film on June 23.
Top photo: Scarlett Johansson in director Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City. Photo courtesy of Focus Features. Asteroid City movie poster courtesy of Focus Features.