The French Dispatch — Review

The French Dispatch creates a whimsical, comical experience for viewers interested in seeing another one of Wes Anderson’s creative masterpieces.

Image courtesy of IMDb images

The French Dispatch creates a whimsical, comical experience for viewers interested in seeing another one of Wes Anderson’s creative masterpieces.

“The French Dispatch” is another one of Wes Anderson’s films that captivates the audience with its visually striking scenery, something incorporated in all of his creative masterpieces. The film is set in a French city where several short stories are brought to life. A group of writers at a newspaper company take the audience through a series of people, each with their own unique storyline. Timotheé Chalamet, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson are just some of the many well-known actors that are featured in this film. Arthur Howitzer Jr., (Bill Murray) is the editor of the French Dispatch, an insert in the Evening Sun. This paper is distributed to a fictional town in France called Ennui-Sur-Blasé.

One of the best components of the film is Anderson’s unmistakable style of filmmaking and the visuals that he creates for viewers. The symmetry and distinctive color palette in each of his shots contributes to the whimsical feel of his films. Vibrant reds, blues and yellows were apparent in all of the film. He also uses a camera technique called a snap-zoom that allows the camera to zoom in and out quickly. It can help viewers focus on the main subject of the shot and it is a trademark of Anderson’s film style. These aspects set him apart from many other filmmakers, because any viewer who’s remotely familiar with his work can recognize components of his style that he adds in all of his films. My favorite aspect of his film style is when the scene freezes, all characters are frozen in time, except one person who adds commentary or walks the audience through their thought process during that specific moment. Often these moments are hectic and there’s a lot going on so it’s comical and interesting to observe everything that’s going on while frozen in time.

Another one of my favorite components of the film was the subtle comedy and sarcasm that brought the film to life with the character’s witty remarks. The character’s sarcasm and one-liners left the audience chuckling in the theater and it made the film very enjoyable to watch. For me, it’s clear to see a consistency in the type of comedy that Anderson likes to portray in his films. The nature of the film almost feels like it should be a children’s movie, but the sarcasm, witty remarks, language, and other aspects definitely suit an older audience which is what I think makes Anderson even more unique.

While the visuals and subtle comedy helped capture your attention, at times I believe that the film got a little boring and drawn out. When multiple short stories are incorporated into one film, it’s easy to get lost if they go on for too long. I feel that during the film I was not engaged at certain points with what was going on, but then certain unexpected events or sarcastic one-liners would capture my attention again. While the film captured your attention at some points, ultimately near the end of the film I started to wonder how much time was left because I wanted the film to wrap up.

Overall, The French Dispatch is not one of my favorites of Wes Anderson’s work, but I would still recommend watching it with friends or family. It was not a long movie, lasting 1 hour and 48 minutes, but it still left me bored and unengaged at points. The cast list was reason enough for me to want to go see the movie when it first came to theaters, and each character delivered their role perfectly in my opinion. Anyone, familiar or not with Anderson’s work, can enjoy and appreciate this movie. 

 My final grade for this film: B+