As you know by now, we love a contribution here at Last Movie Outpost, so today we give thanks to one of you, our beloved Outposters, who has written this review – Bourgeoise Scum. Here is what he had to say about The French Dispatch.
The French Dispatch
The French Dispatch is the newest film by uber-auteur director Wes Anderson. He’s a very polarizing filmmaker as many find his work off-putting and twee, and others appreciate the quirky sensibilities of his characters mixed with his unique style and composition. I generally count among the latter, though this film did try my patience at times.
The story is a sort of anthology based around the fictitious newspaper magazine named The French Dispatch of the Kansas Liberty Evening Sun. Founded by the recently deceased Arthur Horowitz Jr. (Bill Murray) using Daddy’s money, it’s an ode to The New Yorker, but set in the town of Ennui-sur-Blasé in France.
It follows 3 main “dispatches” as well as a prologue and epilogue.
The film opens with a loose history of The French Dispatch then a prologue where Owen Wilson gives a guided tour of the history of Ennui. It’s fine. Not much to judge here.
The Concrete Masterpiece
The first (and best of the 3 ) involves a convicted murderer and genius painter (Benicio Del Toro) having a love affair with his muse and prison guard (Lea Seydoux). It gets the sleazy world of art, art dealers, buyers, and so on very well and the depiction of their affair is done very sweetly, yet harshly.
Revisions To A Manifesto
The second revolves around a student revolution at a nearby college. Francis McDormand is an older woman set to cover the story who ends up having an affair with the male student leader (Timothy Chalmett). It’s mostly about the responsibility, and often failure, of the press to maintain their impartiality, but it didn’t really work for me. I found this dispatch to be a little too “on the nose” and cloying. Your mileage may vary.
The Private Dining Room Of The Police Commissioner
The 3rd is a mixed bag. Jeffery Wright gives the best performance in the film. He is regaling a TV talk show host about his years at the newspaper and tells the story of a remarkable police lieutenant who would become the greatest chef in the world. His story relates to the kidnapping of a Police Commissioner’s son by drug-addicted anarchists. I will not spoil anything here, but this was both excellent in some places and a bit dry in others. It also includes an animated scene that seems like it was tacked on as he ran out of money to shoot the action live.
Perhaps the best part of the film is the short epilogue where all the reporters have gathered to write the obituary for their dead boss, who is laying before them on his desk. It’s tight, clever, and witty.
In conclusion, if you like Wes Anderson you will like this. It is perhaps, in a visual sense anyway, the most ‘Wes Anderson-est’ movie he has ever made. The performances are generally great, it looks exactly how we know it will and the themes and mood are on point. That being said, this struck me as a little colder than most of his films.
It lacks the profundity of Moonrise Kingdom or The Life Aquatic, the whimsy of Grand Budapest Hotel or Fantastic Mr Fox, or the earnestness of Rushmore or The Royal Tennenbaums. I think it’s lower tier Anderson.