The French Dispatch may be the hardest Wes Anderson film to watch.
The French Dispatch was the most complex Wes Anderson I have ever watched. I found it challenging to stay engaged. That may have been due to the distractions in the theater, such as the surprising echo and the non-stop hyena laughter behind me. But I have enjoyed Wes Anderson movies, such as The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Royal Tenenbaums.
The French Dispatch brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city. It stars Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson.
This film is split into four sections, each covering an article written for The French Dispatch.
Unfortunately, not all the sections are equally as good. This movie may have gone over my head, but I still did manage to enjoy half of it. The story titled “The Concrete Masterpiece.” features Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, and Léa Seydoux. It was my favorite story from the film. It is about the work of a criminally insane painter who is discovered, ruthlessly promoted, and sold for increasingly astronomical prices by an art dealer. This segment had great acting and storytelling, mixed with subtle humor.
If the entire movie was focused on just this single story, I would have highly enjoyed this movie.
However, the story that completely lost me was “Revisions to a Manifesto”. It was a retelling of the historical French events in 1964 when student protests led to a massive movement that shut down the country. It features Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet and, Lyna Khoudri. In addition, seeing Frances and Timothée as love interests were slightly uncomfortable, and the story itself did not appeal much to me.
Luckily the film redeems itself with “The Private Dining Room” story. It is a suspenseful tale of drugs, kidnapping, and fine dining, narrated by Jeffrey Wright. Watching narration lay out on screen in a noir and comic fashion was very entertaining. I could listen to Jeffrey Wright for hours.
Don’t get me wrong the movie has fantastic acting, fun scenes, and great looking set. Unfortunately the film’s structure did not work for someone like me. There will be many people that will enjoy this movie and true Wes Anderson fans will have a great time watching The French Dispatch.
I give The French Dispatch a 6 out of 10. Even though it is the most ambitious film to date by Wes Anderson, the audiences will have a mixed reaction. As Tilda Swinton describes the film, “It is Wes’ French love letter to internationalism, culture, and the blessed art of independent journalism.”
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