The French Dispatch (2021) – Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson brings his quirky style to journalism with The French Dispatch, an anthology of stories that let him show off his cast, his style, his attention to wonderful details, and that sense of humor that permeates his work.

Bill Murray plays the editor of The French Dispatch, Arthur Howitzer, Jr., and this will be the last issue in accordance with his will. We get a glimpse of the articles that show up in the magazine supplement, there’s a travelogue by Sazerac (Owen Wilson), an art commentary by Berensen (Tilda Swinton), a report on the youth by Krementz (Frances McDormand) and a bit of a cooking story (kind of) with Roebuck Wright (Jeffery Wright).

Anderson’s use of the frame, the use of the space, the details, and the little notations and characters, everything we’ve come to expect from an Anderson film is all here. And it’s so much fun.

He stacks the cast, alongside his regulars like Wilson, Murray, and Jason Schwartzman are Adrien Brody, Lea Seydoux, Henry Winkler, Bob Balaban, Benecio Del Toro, Timothee Chalamet, Mathieu Amalric, Willem Dafoe, Christoph Waltz, Liev Schreiber, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Elisabeth Moss, Fisher Stevens, and Angelica Huston (as the Narrator).

Crisply told, the film is a perfect confection, delighting the senses, and bringing the best of Anderson and his collaborators to the screen. Each of the stories is completely realized, as the film cuts between color and black and white to convey the separation of the world and the printed story.

There is also an animated sequence near the climate of the film that feels very much in line with the classic Tintin comics and cartoons. I loved it, and all the fun little details throughout the film. Each story is engaging and entertaining, often funny, and just all the uses of the frame and details just wows me.

Anderson makes wonderful use of his cast, playing to each of their strengths and foibles and they bring each of the stories to life wonderfully. Honestly, as soon as I finished this one I wanted to go back and start Anderson’s entire filmography again.

I just love the reality he creates within his films, the way the actors come to play, and just how imaginative and fun these films are. I really do need to go back and watch all of his films again. Like now. They just feel like a heightened detail-centric version of reality, with quirks and eccentricities taken to the extreme.

And he always gets the best cast.


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