Wes Anderson’s new film Asteroid City is a sci-fi dramedy following a grieving family stranded in a rural US town during a star-gazing event in the summer of 1955.

However, it’s also a text by fictional playwright, Conrad Earp (Edward Norton), the writing and dramatisation of which forms the basis of this film’s framing story. And those hyper-saturated, expansive vistas you’re likely to be familiar with from the film’s promotional materials are from the in-world, televised dramatisation of this play.

You’re right, it’s confusing.

Steve Carrell in Asteroid City. Photo supplied

This is a story within a story within a story where art mimics art. Anderson is obsessed with these types of framing devices. His last feature, The French Dispatch (2021) has an anthology structure, with each story representing an article in an issue of the film’s fictional Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun newspaper.

I’ve also written about how The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) often visually resembles the faux documentaries made by the faux oceanographic collective, Team Zissou, as if you’re watching something which could have been created within...