The French Dispatch is arguably Wes Anderson’s most self-indulgent and his most Wes Anderson-y film to date. The filmmaking techniques echo a bygone era of European cinema, the humor is dry, the characters charming yet flawed, and of course the perfectly symmetrical shot composition, it’s a wes anderson movie.
If Wes Anderson is trying to respond to the critics who constantly complain that his style of filmmaking is redundant and pretentious, this is the way to do it.
The film is essentially an anthology of short stories written for a magazine known as “The French Dispatch” and I think this style works great for him considering these are ideas that don’t need a full length movie to tell. The short form packs so much meaning and emotion into each story and as a viewer, you’re intrigued to see what surprises the next story has to offer, just like if you were reading a newspaper. It’s by far his messiest and most disjointed movie but in a way, it’s kind of what a story like this begs for.
The film does a great job celebrating artistry, storytelling, political freedom, and love in ways that are almost indescribable. I wanted to spend more time with these characters and understand how they got to where they are even if I hated them. (im looking at you adrien) There’s a great deal of excitement there for me and I honestly wish the publication was real.
Whilst doing all of this it manages to showcase each writer’s personality in such a short bursts of time through the terrific writing and the snappy dialogue. Kinda reminded me that writer’s can actually have personality and nuance and uhhh talent. Great to know that not every writer is churning out soulless remakes of the infinitely better original. I also love that this movie has a great deal of irony as it critiques the ideals that it believes in whilst at the same time as supporting them; there are many scenes where pretentiousness and abstract “modern ideas” are made fun of whilst simultaneously being praised only a few scenes later.
Everytime it happens it’s hilarious and it reminds me how good Wes is at playing into the oddball and ridiculous nature of the characters and jokes that many of his films have. To top it all off, the most stunning achievement has to be the old-fashioned sets which feel like they are all part of one big dollhouse and we as the audience are looking into it, taking in the madness and complexity of it all in one big breath. It almost makes me feel like the movie isn’t from this era, it’s truly something to admire on it’s own.
It’s a great celebration of the writer’s and visionaries of the 60s and 70s and all the work they did to move us forward as a society (even though we may take for granted nowadays).
Everything about the movie from it’s scriptwriting to performances to the presentation is near perfect and being a big fan of Wes, I’m excited to see what he has up his sleeve next.