If you are a fan of Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch will be one of the best films you watch in a while. I can say this confidently because, according to the ingenious director himself, The French Dispatch presents his ideas in their purest form, and his original visions for the flick are left mainly unscathed. This statement is not exaggerated, as every signature element of Anderson’s films, such as the symmetrical shots and the saturated colors, is featured extensively to provide viewers with a fulfilling but not overwhelming viewing experience.
Aside from the usual Anderson-esque shots and sequences, the French Dispatch also transcends the director’s past projects through its play on the film’s colorization and the injection of animated sequences between live actions. These novel and bold creative decisions ultimately separate The French Dispatch from Anderson’s earlier works and help bring Anderson’s idealistic visions closer to reality.
The cast of The French Dispatch is even grander than the usual star-studded Anderson cast. Not only does Anderson collaborate with his classic players led by Bill Murray and Owen Wilson, he also adds new names to his actors-list with rising stars like Timothee Chamalet and Lyna Khouri. Moreover, veterans such as Christophe Waltz and Frances McDonald make their first appearance in an Anderson flick.
Anderson’s usual storytelling structure, embedding stories within stories, is employed in this film once again. The film is set in the fictional town of Ennui-Sur-Blase, France, a parallel to 20th century Paris. The story revolves around the final publication of a magazine (remember those?) formatted very much like The New Yorker, and four distinct sections are included in this issue. The first section takes the readers on a quick trip into Ennui and demonstrates the people’s ordinary lives. The second section focuses on the overnight success of Moses Rosenthaler, a genius painter who is imprisoned for committing homicides. The third section records a whimsical student protesting against social injustice. The final section tells the story of a Japanese police sheriff who serves as the police commissioner’s cook.
The French Dispatch is Anderson’s boldest creative endeavor to this day. The director’s conscious decision to weaken stories’ emotional conflicts instead of focusing on the artistic end has divided audiences. However, the entertainment effects brought by such a choice can’t be denied. I think a movie of such uniqueness requires an independent viewing, and the visually stunning qualities of the film deserve a ticket, if nothing else.