“Asteroid City” (Focus)

Jason Schwartzman and Scarlett Johansson star in a scene from the movie “Asteroid City.” The OSV News classification of the theatrical version was A-III -- adults. (OSV News photo/Pop. 87 Productions, Focus Features)

By OSV News

Writer-director Wes Anderson’s highly creative, characteristically quirky blend of comedy and drama is doubly framed as a play showcased within a television show (the former’s author played by Edward Norton, the latter’s host by Bryan Cranston).

Set in 1955 in the tiny desert town of the tile, the action centers on a group of visiting parents and children, most prominently a war photographer (Jason Schwartzman), his nerdy son (Jake Ryan) and an actress and mother (Scarlett Johanson) with whom the lensman bonds. The families have gathered for an awards ceremony, presided over by an Army general (Jeffrey Wright), at which the kids will be honored for their prowess in science. But the celebration is suddenly interrupted by a history-altering event.

Filmed in the washed-out hues of a cheap mid-20th-century postcard, Anderson’s mannered exploration of familiar tropes in Eisenhower-era American life touches on fundamental themes, including the meaning (if any) of life and death as well as the nature of love, loss and grief. There’s a lazy irreverence in his incidental treatment of faith, which the script seems to imply is both a symptom of unthinking social conformity and a means of falsely masking unpleasant truths. Inappropriate for those lacking mature discernment, the film may leave even those possessing it baffled.

A glimpse of full female nudity, a same-sex kiss, at least one sexual reference, a couple of crass terms. The OSV News classification is A-III — adults. The Motion Picture Association rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

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