Film & Television

John Maguire on film: Wes Anderson brings colour and charm to a dusty Arizona town in Asteroid City

There’s a lot going on in the quirky director’s sci-fi comedy that features a stellar cast and a breakneck plot

Scarlett Johansson (right) and Grace Edwards in Asteroid City, Wes Anderson’s latest movie

Asteroid City, directed by Wes Anderson; nationwide, 12A; rating: ****

Over the course of his 25-year filmmaking career, Wes Anderson’s focus has gradually drifted east. He’s made the short hop from New York to Connecticut, across the channel from England to France, over the Carpathians from Italy to Central Europe and on to more distant points in India and a stop-motion Japan.

In his charming new caper Asteroid City, the Texan-born writer and director finally turns west for a Technicolour sci-fi comedy set in a dusty Arizona town during the 1950s. As if to emphasise his about-face, Anderson’s vast and vivid desert skies are washed in watercolour sunsets, a painterly backdrop to papier-mâché cactus and stage-flat mesas. It’s the director’s sweetest and most thoughtful film since The Darjeeling Limited and another story of family and community, this time under quarantine.