We finally saw The French Dispatch: a film we have been waiting to see for the last 15 months and it was a marvelous experience. The French Dispatch is Wes Anderson’s most Wes Anderson film to date, and we loved it.
Warning: Minor Plot Spoilers in this Review.
Glynis and I agreed that it doesn’t hit the same heights as 2014's The Grand Budapest Hotel or 2012's Moonrise Kingdom, but it’s still a wonderful film. There are three engrossing stories with marvelous production and costume designs. Plus, that zany and witty Anderson touch. An ode to journalism. Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox and Rushmore) takes his eccentric aesthetic and cranks it up to an eleven in The French Dispatch. In Anderson's latest adventure, we follow three unique anthology stories: The Concrete Masterpiece, Revisions to a Manifesto, and The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner. Each of these stories stand on their own, with only Arthur Howitzer Jr. (a fantastic Bill Murray), the editor of the newspaper The French Dispatch, who is connected to them all. The film starts with Howitzer Jr. dying suddenly of a heart attack. According to his will, publications of The French Dispatch are to be suspended following one final farewell issue, in which three articles from past editions of the newspaper are to be republished, along with an obituary. Anderson then immediately goes through these three stories and the journalists who wrote them.
Writer J.K.L. Berensen (a wonderful Tilda Swinton) tells the story of The Concrete Masterpiece. This was my favorite story from the movie. Moses Rosenthaler (a strong Benicio del Toro) is a mentally disturbed artist serving time-in prison for murder. While Rosenthaler is in prison, he paints an abstract nude portrait of Simone (a captivating Léa Seydoux), a prison officer, and Rosenthaler's muse. Julien Cadazio (a chaotic Adrien Brody) is an art dealer serving a sentence for tax evasion, who is completely wowed by the painting after seeing it in the prisoner art exhibition and immediately buys it. Upon Cadazio's release from prison, he displays Rosenthaler's painting through art exhibitors. Rosenthaler and his name soon become a sensation in the art world, making his paintings in high demand. But privately, Rosenthaler is struggling with inspiration and decides to only devote himself to one long-term project.
This bond between del Toro and Seydoux will capture your soul as Anderson jumps back and forth between color and black-and-white scenes (he also does this in story No. 2 and 3). The Concrete Masterpiece is a marvelous experience through beauty, pain, and desire. In Revisions to a Manifesto, we follow Lucinda Krementz (a strong Frances McDormand), who reports on a student protest in the streets of Ennui (a fictional town). This protest will soon boil over into what will be known as the "Chessboard Revolution." Zeffirelli (a witty Timothée Chalamet) is the self-styled leader of the student revolt and is currently writing his manifesto. Krementz tries to maintain "journalistic integrity" but begins to have a brief romance with Zeffirelli. There's also Juliette (newcomer Lyna Khoudri), a fellow revolutionary who is unimpressed with Zeffirelli's manifesto. Throughout the "Chessboard Revolution" and even long after it is over, Zeffirelli and his image become a symbol of that very movement.
Lastly, our third and final story is known as The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner. We follow a food journalist, Roebuck Wright (a magnificent Jeffrey Wright), who recounts the story of him attending a private dinner with The Commissaire (a stern Mathieu Amalric), prepared by the legendary police officer and chef Lt. Nescaffier (a splendid Stephen Park). However, during the dinner, the Commissaire's son Gigi (Winston Ait Hellal) is kidnapped and held for ransom by criminals. This leads to a cat-and-mouse game of trying to save Gigi and eliminate the kidnappers. Yet the criminals may have one weakness in that delicious food Lt. Nescaffier prepares. Anderson's zany humor runs wild in this last tale — fast tracking shots, a glowing production design, and even some animation. The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner was Glynis' favorite story from this picture. The French Dispatch is a wild charade of Anderson's wacky world that will fully consume you. It was an absolute delight to finally see this movie in the theaters. The French Dispatch is colorful, artistic, and layered with the craftsmanship of Anderson himself. This production allowed the director to let loose, spilling his bizarre aesthetic throughout the screen.
"It began as a holiday. Eager to escape a great future on the Great Plains, Arthur Howitzer Jr., transformed a series of travelogue columns into the French Dispatch. A factual report on the subjects of world politics, the arts, high and low, and diverse stories of human interest."
Here's my personal ranking of Wes Anderson's filmography: Click Here.
The French Dispatch is rated R (Restricted) Language | Graphic Nudity | Some Sexual References.
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Schwartzman, Tony Revolori, Henry Winkler, Bob Balaban, Liev Schreiber, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Owen Wilson, and Bill Murray.
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