The French Dispatch (2021)- Film Review

The French Dispatch (2021)- Film Review

“The French Dispatch” is the new film from acclaimed filmmaker, Wes Anderson. The film had a limited release on October 22, 2021. It was originally set for a release in July 2020, but got delayed over a year due to COVID-19. I didn’t get to watch the film until early November because of the limited release, regardless of that, I really liked the film and it was really creative, while still being in a similar formula of Anderson’s other films. Anderson’s first film, “Bottle Rocket” was released in 1996, 25 years ago, this year is a great time to release a new film of his, arguably one of his best. “The French Dispatch” is  Wes Anderson’s latest film, proceeded by 2018’s “Isle of Dogs” and Anderson’s first live-action film since 2014’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, which had a similar style in visual storytelling, dialogue, acting, and comedy.

Bill Murray as “Arthur Howitzer Jr.” the owner and editor of The French Dispatch.

Story

The film tells the story of a Journalist publication company, called “The French Dispatch”, which is owned by editor Arthur Howitzer Jr., played by Bill Murray. The company wants to publish one last issue, one that will stand out from the others. The farewell issue that they decided to publish chronicles what they thought were the three best stories from the past decade. The film shows all three of these stories in their entirety, starting with the story of prison inmate Moses Rosenthaler, played by Benicio Del Toro, who has a passion for art. This section of the story shows how his love for art effects the prison and his personality, and how he can sell his art and make a profit. He did a panting of one of the prison guards and it received popular attention among art critics. The second story focuses on multiple characters, but the main one of the story I would say is Krementz, played by Frances McDormand, who studies the local student riots at a university, and befriends Zeffirelli, played by Timothée Chalamet, and his experiences at the university and conflict between the competing group of students, and why they are all a part of this riot. The final story focuses on a kidnapping case that became very popular because of its execution, the story is told by Roebuck Wright, played by Jeffery Wright, while he is on a talkshow, claiming he remembers every word of the stories he has written, he was also a major role in the story, remembering how it all went down.

Benicio Del Toro and Léa Seydoux in the first story told in the film.

Critical Reception and Technical Highlights

The film was met with mostly positive reviews by critics and audiences, many fans of Wes Anderson say its one of his weaker films, but is still very good and has his style to it, making it a story that only he can tell. I have seen all of Anderson’s films, and while his first film remains my favorite of his, this film is one of his best in my opinion. It is very creative, entertaining, one of his funniest, and probably has the best cast out of all of his films. I could tell he took a lot of time and effort into this story to make it work the way it did. Usually, a change in aspect ratios or contrast and colors bothers me in most films, since I feel like most filmmakers do it to stand out and for no other reason or relevance to the story, but what Anderson did here in terms of a technical standpoint was quite impressive and worked well with the story, he did something similar with “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and it worked well in that too. The film often switches between black and white and color scenes, with most of the scenes in color showing the modern day elements of when the story is being told, and the black and white sections are used for the stories being told from the company. The aspect ratio also changes in many scenes, but mainly keeps a 4:3 aspect ratio. The aspect ratio change doesn’t happen a lot, but when it does it feels right, and I think that is difficult to do.

Frances McDormand as “Krementz” and Timothée Chalamet as “Zefferlli” in the second story documented in the film.

My Thoughts

“The French Dispatch” was a surprise for me, I knew it was going to be good, but I wasn’t expecting it to be fantastic like how I thought it was, if you are a fan of Wes Anderson’s other films, a fan of film as an artform, or just want something to watch, I would recommend to check this one out. I was glad to be able to watch it in a theater instead of having to wait months for it to come to streaming or home video. The humor and art style in the film may not be for everyone, but it will be great to quite a lot of people out who are fans of the visual arts.

The main cast of the film.