“The French Dispatch” is the 10th feature film by Wes Anderson, who, at only 52 years old, is a film director who has managed to create his own universe and his own aesthetic. In his new film, the American filmmaker presents us several stories with an original narrative format that revolves around an American literary magazine which has a branch in France and which is directed by Arthur Howitzer Jr (Bill Murray).
“The French Dispatch” is a delicate and well realized ode to journalism, art and French culture. The film begins with an introduction in the form of an article for “The French Dispatch”. In this prologue, the journalist Herbaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson) introduces us to the city of Ennui-sur-Blase through his journey by bike, which reminds us of Paris in the late 60s.
Three different stories follow, also in the form of articles. The first story and article is about art. The French Dispatch tells the story of a psychopathic and talented painter, Moses Rosenthaler (Benecio Del Toro) who is imprisoned for years.
The second story is about politics and deals with May 68 in France. We follow Zeffirelli (Timothée Chalamet) a protesting and committed student. The last story is focuses on Roebuck Wright (Jeffrey Wright) a food journalist who describe a very special police case. Through these different stories, mainly filmed in Angoulême (France), “The French Dispatch” recreates a France of the time, probably inspired by French filmmakers such as Jacques Tati and Jacques Demy.
In his direction, Wes Anderson gives a particular importance to the settings and gives us the impression of a mastered work, accompanied by Robert D. Yeoman (a regular of Wes Anderson’s films) for the cinematography and by Alexandre Desplat for the music. He alternates without difficulty between black and white and color, between film and animation and multiplies the cinematographic tricks to give an impression of life to his sets and to give a total fluidity between the sequences.
While remaining in a clear guideline between his different films, “The French Dispatch” is the most ambitious film but also the most successful of the American director. The narrative format of the film allows him to maintain a good rhythm throughout the film. It also allows Wes Anderson to have a multitude of main and secondary characters, which allows him to integrate an incredible number of famous actors to his film.
In terms of casting, which is an important part of the film, we obviously find the usual ones such as Billy Murray, Owen Wilson or even Willem Dafoe, but also very well-known actors such as Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Edward Norton. Interestingly enough, there are also some lesser known French actors such as Lyna Khoudri, Denis Ménochet and Guillaume Galienne.
However, this constant influx of familiar faces may confuse some. “The French Dispatch” is Wes Anderson’s most uninhibited, most ambitious film, a great proof of mastery and a great success.
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