The French Dispatch: Review
Mia Stapleton writes why The French Dispatch is the ode to journalism that we did not know we needed.
As Wes Anderson’s 10th feature film is released, following a year-long delay, he emerges into double figures with the signature whimsical style that we know and love. In an interview with Charente Libre, Anderson described The French Dispatch as a ‘love letter to journalists set at an outpost of an American newspaper in 20th Century Paris.’ What he promised, we received.
In this his latest film, Anderson pays homage to print journalism, particularly honouring the work of The New Yorker. Set in a fictional town in France, the film is centred around the newspaper ‘The French Dispatch’ and the events following the passing of its editor. It follows three short stories: a youthful student uprising, the rise of an insane (yet talented) artist, and a heist thriller. With each story, the exaggerated aesthetics are as stunning as the last.
The French Dispatch is delightfully refreshing; providing memories of ‘dying’ print journalism in a technologically dominated modern age. It gives an alternative perspective of the world not just of journalism, but the role of a journalist themselves. Anderson is tactically ignorant of the adventurous themes at hand. He replaces the lack of politics with dry and witty humour, creating the intoxicating blend of comedy and romance that is The French Dispatch. Journalism is presented in an almost romanticised and sheltered way which works in the film’s favour.
Anderson’s eccentric aesthetic style is paired spectacularly with an ensemble of illustrations, used throughout the film to aid in the telling of each individual story. In addition, the artistic post-credit scene is inspired by the sophisticated works of The New Yorker. The French Dispatch is fresh and unique, with the artistic style of the film creating a nostalgic feel through an excitable ‘retro’ pastel colour scheme and a comforting soundtrack.
I did not personally expect to find the film as enjoyable as I did, mostly due to it being more of a ‘montage.’ Admittedly, a rather confusing one at times. What the film slightly lacked in narrative detail and clarity, was made up for through lively tales, and a talented casting. To put it simply, the film is, as most of Anderson’s works, cinematically beautiful. We see many familiar faces, such as the likes of Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Léa Seydoux, and the young stars Timothée Chalamet and Saoirse Ronan.
The French Dispatch undoubtedly brings a modern sense of escapism to the screen.