Tuesday, October 19, 2021

The French Dispatch Review: A Quirky Film Filled With Originality And Charm

Release date: October 22, 2021
Running time: 103 minutes
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Christoph Waltz, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Anjelica Huston
Written and Directed by: Wes Anderson

THE FRENCH DISPATCH is Wes Anderson’s 10th feature film. THE FRENCH DISPATCH is a magazine come to life & celebrates the art of long form writing and storytelling. Set in the first half of the 20th century in the imaginary city of “Ennui-sur-Blasé” in France, the film’s structure is a series of stories each following a different expatriate writer for “The French Dispatch” magazine (the Sunday supplement of The Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun) as they cover stories about art, politics, food, and crime.

The French Dispatch is a quirky revelation, with Wes Anderson's trademark style and charm on full display.  The movie really is a magazine come to life, with several "episodes" that are based on stories in this imaginary magazine.  And each episode delves into a subject, but only loosely relates to that subject.  It's more of a jumping off point to celebrate the quirk and give this all star cast a chance to embody very different and interesting characters.  I really loved the cast here as it has some actors that you know and love doing some very different roles.  They're odd, they're esoteric, but they're thoroughly entertaining.

The film feels like it is out of a different time period and even genre, at times feeling like a play, a diorama, and a long form article.  I really loved when it tried to lean into the play aspects, with sets that felt like the start of some sort of performance and sequences that were coordinated and deliberate.  And the French Dispatch also at times feels like a celebration of older forms of media.  Aside from the movie being about a magazine, it does have aspects of some classic performance art (like plays).  It is also in 4:3 aspect ratio, another callback to an older time.   

But what is best about the French Dispatch is the writing.  It is detailed and crisp, and filled with wit and charm.  The characters all deliver it perfectly, but when you take it all as a whole it really is a wonderful work.  If there is any criticism of this, it is that the film is a little slow, especially after the first very enjoyable short act.  But don't worry, there is plenty to love about this movie! 

The French Dispatch is mangifique, with an all star cast, crisp and witty writing, and a format that allows these two to meld perfectly for a thoroughly enjoyable and unique experience.

Watch it.

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The French Dispatch is in theaters on October 22, 2021.  For showtimes, click here.

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