For some time now, it seems that Wes Anderson can't direct movies that don't involve big Hollywood stars. All the most famous actors fall in love with his universe, so peculiar and colorful. No matter how small the paper.
If two years ago the American already competed for the Palme d'Or with The French Chronicle, an ensemble comedy of crossed stories that meant his love letter to the world of journalism, this time he brought to the Cannes Festival a whole troupe of renowned interpreters who He arrived by bus to the red carpet to present a story set in the 50s that works like a wrapper full of layers.
In the opening scene, Anderson uses black and white to cast Bryan Cranston as the host of a TV show about the preparation of a play written by a character with the face of Edward Norton. A play that moves to a desert area in the United States where a school contest dedicated to the observation of astronomical phenomena is going to take place.
Immediately, the screen lights up with that truffled aesthetic of pastel colors and delirious dialogues so characteristic of Anderson's cinema, which displays an obsession with framing, camera movements and pristine sets, leaving an orphaned narrative that goes nowhere.
With this film his formula is exhausted and tired, because the presence of a stellar army made up of Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson, Maya Hawke, Margot Robbie, Tilda Swinton, Rupert Friend or Adrien Brody are not enough to save an insubstantial story that brings together parents with their children, brilliant science students, in an area that will attract the attention of the same Martians.
Filmed two years ago in the Madrid town of Chinchón, in the midst of a pandemic, its screening on the Croisette has not received the expected enthusiasm, despite the fact that at the press conference this afternoon the actors praised the work of the author of The Grand Budapest Hotel . "It has been an exciting experience working with Wes. He is a very intense and funny director who has given us a particular atmosphere," said Johansson, who plays a well-known actress who accompanies her gifted daughter to the tiny city of Asteroid city. and ends up having an affair with Jason Schwartzman's character, a recently widowed war photographer and father of four.
Schwartzman, a regular at Anderson's films, is the nephew of Francis Ford Coppola and cousin of Roman Coppola, who co-wrote this story with the director. "Wes creates the total environment, he's physical and tangible, in a way it's like doing theater because you have that usable space, it's not like the normal process we're used to shooting," added Johansson.
For Cranston, "Anderson is the conductor of an orchestra and we actors each play an instrument and are totally focused on our instrument not knowing what the ensemble is going to be like. Then Wes adjusts everything." And, despite not knowing at some point what the story was about, Anderson told them not to worry and move on. "We didn't know exactly what was going to happen, how long our lives as characters were going to be. We just had to go ahead and tell what he was proposing."
In this regard, the director states: "The film is you, what you do. I write a script but everything else is a kind of improvisation, from the emotions you put into it". Within that trademark surreal tone, we are shown an alien who makes a brief appearance in the city before the incredulous glances of the visitors. "We have prepared this film as best as possible but it is not university or academic research. Stephen Hawking insisted that it is mathematically improbable that there is no extraterrestrial life. I really don't believe it," he said to the laughter of journalists.