Film Review – The French Dispatch (2021)

Title – The French Dispatch (2021) 

Director – Wes Anderson (Bottle Rocket) 

Cast – Bill Murray, Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Jeffrey Wright, Timothee Chalamet, Owen Wilson 

Plot – A collection of stories that form integral parts of an American newspaper set in a French city. 

“All great beauties withhold their deepest secrets”

Review by Eddie on 21/12/2021

In many ways The French Dispatch feels like the most Wes Andersony movie you could ask for but despite it possessing all the little quirks, stylings and scattered goodness’s of the beloved indie director, Anderson’s latest star studded affair doesn’t come close to becoming a film worthy of standing alongside the likes of Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums or The Grand Budapest Hotel. 

His first “real life” film since 2014’s Grand Budapest adventure, it at first appears as though we are in for another oddball delight as we are thrust into the world of Bill Murray’s Arthur Howitzer, Jr.’s French Dispatch newspaper world filled with many of Anderson’s greatest friends such as Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman and the initial voice over lead introduction to this eclectic universe of journalists, artists and deep thinkers seems to set things up for a colourful ride but this collation of stories loses steam quickly and becomes a film that is sure to divide the Anderson fan-base in unpredictable ways. 

As an artistic endeavour, Dispatch is as glorious as we’ve come to expect from Anderson with black and white segments, animated detours, moving sets and witty scripting all making themselves known but there’s a heart and soul missing here that’s found in the best of Anderson’s works and despite the attempt by Anderson to string everything here together under the guise of newspaper sections, there’s not a particularly strong common thread binding the narrative of Dispatch into one cohesive whole with only the first segment featuring a wild eyed Benicio Del Toro as troubled inmate/painter Moses Rosenthaler really standing out in the memory once the credits roll. 

While it might sound harsh and likely to not go down well with those Anderson fans that see the unique filmmaker as someone that can do no wrong, Dispatch’s most glaring issue appears to be that Anderson has tried to out-Anderson himself and in doing so has turned his often winning formula into a washed down and bastardised caricature of itself, nothing really feels overly earned or earnest here and while Anderson may attempt to declare his film as a love letter to journalism and its many worthy figures, the film he has made never truly achieves its goal of honouring the art-form or its participants.   

Final Say – 

Always nice to look at and artistically as strong as you’d expect from a director with the track record of Anderson, The French Dispatch feels like one of his most forgettable films yet that fails to find its mojo around a collection of tales that never fly like the way you would’ve hoped they did. 

2 1/2 prison based exhibitions out of 5 

7 responses to “Film Review – The French Dispatch (2021)

  1. Nooo, while I agree it’s not his finest, I just thought the first segment didn’t work but LOVED it after that – it’s more vignettes than a film though, isn’t it? (More than usual…)

    • Yeh it really didnt have a whole lot joining it all together. I just found it mostly unengaging as a whole even if the artistry was top notch.

      • Ah that’s a pity but, also as you say, this one definitely splits people. I did go to the exhibition though in London, the level of detail in the sets was outstanding! (that type of stuff might sway me, haha!)

        I thought Chalamet and McDormand where a great pairing, and Wright is always class.

      • That would’ve been awesome to see mate!

        Anderson always makes fantastic pieces of art, just this one left me feeling very cold overall.

  2. Pingback: The French Dispatch: Movie Review·

  3. Anderson pictures are so rare I just cherish every one. Thoroughly enjoyed this. but you are right it is a string of vignettes but they were so done I thought with such love that I could only see heart and soul. I could have done with more Bill Murray but so many sections were just brilliant. Found this to be one his best.

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