The French Dispatch (2021)
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton and many many more
Are you ready for framed symmetry and an impressive ensemble delivering quick, cerebral dialogue? I certainly hope so, because Wes Anderson’s tenth film The French Dispatch is now available for streaming on HBO Max.
This time around, the famed director (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums) uses the dissolution of a weekly publication to tell three storylines that suggest broader implications. Set in France, not surprisingly, the film offers beautiful locations and sets as well excellent performances from regulars like Bill Murray and Adrien Brody alongside new additions like Timothée Chalamet and Jeffrey Wright, all of whom seem to be having way too much fun.
Each of the three storylines within the main plot were enjoyable, but my favorite was the first starring Benicio Del Toro as an imprisoned painter. The two stories that follow are just as visually stunning and well-acted, but it’s the first that sets the film’s overall tone. It lingered in my mind as the others unfolded, like a ghost that, once seen, took attention away from the present and possible futures. In fact, the revelation at the end of the first act left me so stunned that I had a difficult time getting invested in the following scenes with Chalamet and Frances McDormand. Ultimately, something was lost as their story came to a close.
Being a voracious viewer of film, the anthology aspect of The French Dispatch left me little time to ponder and lament the climaxes and denouements. When most film credits roll, I stare star-struck at the darkened screen as the lights go up in the poorly attended theater. Here, when credits should be rolling, a new story pops up, and away we go.
This film deserves a second viewing before I am able to give my final analysis. However, with one viewing, I can say that it is a must see for fans of Anderson and an essential see for anyone that wants to know what it feels like to be consumed by a passion for art above all else. If most of Wes Anderson’s films are A’s, B’s & a few C’s then his latest is an A-.