Where Asteroid City shines, where it is made masterpiece, is in its brief flashes of joy: a good picture, a milkshake, a song and dance, one more martini. Here is a life not perfect—soldiers wielding guns, no personal space, endless boredom—made enviable by one thing only: each other.
Whether lost in the pregnant pause of a phantom victory, swamped by the rush of bizarre sex appeal, or struggling with the desire to follow a new best friend but kept back by the ironclad claims of home, Pee-wee understands that dreams are the basis for strange journeys.
Taken as a body of work, the Before trilogy asks us to consider the tension between its fantasy and naturalism, and the extent of our own ability to exert similar control over a lonely world that ushers us through life without concern for whether we’ve found any meaning in it.