The French Dispatch
review by Bobby Blakey
I love director Wes Anderson’s film, but they are acquired tastes in most cases. Love them or hate them there is no denying that they always stand out as unique. His latest film, The French Dispatch is no different and offers up some of the usual cast as well as some new ones including Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson. Could this latest film be another unique hit or will it fail to make the front page?
The French Dispatch follows journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in "The French Dispatch" magazine.
Much like all of Wes Anderson’s films you have to know you are heading into a strange and often ridiculous world of character and situations that either work for you in their quirky nature or do not. I love his work and this one is no exception. From the first sequence I knew I was all in and it never disappointed throughout. It never really has a point and on some level feels like a waste of time by the end, but it is just so damn good that you don’t care and instead wish for more chapters.
The story is broken up into numerous stories that are the articles written for this final issue of the magazine. Much like his previous film The Grand Budapest Hotel it offers up an insanely good cast and numerous backdrops and colorful imagery. Each story brings its own unique vision and awkward awesomeness to the forefront as it delves into the strange article it inspired.
All of these stories are bookended by the writers and editor at the magazines office as they discuss and determine if they work and why.
It’s an idea that has no business working, but thanks to some brilliant performances across the board and Andersons’s unique vision it stands out as something fresh and original. I loved this film and the very different elements of each story. I could go on and on about the cast and their performances, but they are all so great it would be hard to single out just one. I was surprised to see Bill Murray as the most subdued of the bunch and while doesn’t get a ton to do is still the center point to the whole thing.
The simplistic discussions that come out of these strange and often weird stories are some of my favorite moments discussing silly things like budget and editing among other things. This keeps you reminded of the stories being the articles while you get to live through the experience as well. The visuals are Anderson all the way and create an almost cartoon like world that is expressive and impressive all at once. It is a character all its own and further comes to life surrounded by the unique cast of characters that inhabits it.
If I had any complaint is that there weren’t more stories to experience. This is the kind that they could have gone anywhere and went places you won’t expect while still wanting more. In the end this will no doubt end up on my best of the year list and hope it is recognized in some fashion during awards season.
Grab your copy of Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch available now on digital and on Blu-ray and DVD December 28th from Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.