French Dispatch, The : Movie Review

Title: The French Dispatch.
Released on Blu-ray: 3rd April 2023
Director: Wes Anderson
Cinematography: Robert Yeoman
Starring: Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwatzman, Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Angelina Huston.
Certificate: 15.
Length: 107 minutes.

Arrives on Blu-ray™ exclusively at HMV on 3 April

THE FRENCH DISPATCH will be available on Blu-ray on 3 April exclusively at HMV in the UK. From the visionary mind of Academy Award® nominee Wes Anderson, this, his tenth feature, brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city. It is available now on digital and Disney+.

French Dispatch, The (2021) - Movie PosterOn the death of its beloved Kansas-born editor Arthur Howitzer, Jr., (Bill Murray) the staff of The French Dispatch, a widely circulated American magazine based in the French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé, convenes to write his obituary. Memories of Howitzer flow into the creation of four stories: a travelogue of the seediest sections of the city itself from The Cycling Reporter; “The Concrete Masterpiece,” about a criminally insane painter, his guard and muse, and his ravenous dealers; “Revisions to a Manifesto,” a chronicle of love and death on the barricades at the height of student revolt; and “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner,” a suspenseful tale of drugs, kidnapping and fine dining.

Wes Anderson movies are inventive, intelligent and always wonderfully acted by a cast of the highest calibre, usually including the likes of Bill Murray, Edward Norton and Jason Schwatzman – all superb actors that I could watch all day long – and all of whom, I’m delighted to say, star in The French Dispatch. Even Owen Wilson who I think is not in the same league as the aforementioned thespians, produces better performances when he appears in Anderson’s movies, no doubt thanks to the sublime scripts and his being surrounded by top rate actors.

Wes Anderson makes such clever films, that work on many levels and are so well imagined that they feel very real. Often, they are like watching a moving painting, they are so detailed, and intricate in their design and execution. Yet, even though they are fantastical in nature, they somehow remain grounded. The French Dispatch is the same – it’s showy, but it’s also believable.

The film takes the form of an anthology structure where three stories are told alongside one another. All set in the town of Ennui-sur-Blasé – which roughly translated from French into English means Boredom on apathy. It’s little jokes like this that Anderson stitches into his films and what make them endlessly watchable.

Each of the stories are engaging in their own right, and the actors including Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux and Frances McDormand make them all the more appealing thanks to their charm and ability to handle the material gifted to them by Anderson. Not all actors could pull this off, it takes a certain style and skill to do it.

Frances McDormand is the top reporter Lucinda Krementz, and Timothée Chalamet is Zeffirelli the student leader. He smokes a lot and plays chess… very French. Benicio del Toro plays an artist and Adrien Brody turns up from time to time, whilst the entire film is narrated by Anjelica Houston.

To be fair, the story is crazy, but as mentioned, also totally believable. Anderson has built another entirely relatable and fascinating world for his characters to inhabit, as he has done so many times before with the likes of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Moonrise Kingdom, The Darjeeling Limited and the Royal Tenenbaums.

Anderson has been making these diverse and inventive movies for over 25 years and he shows no signs of stopping with upcoming movies Asteroid City and an adaption of Roald Dahl’s classic The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar.

Anderson’s imagination is apparently limitless and The French Dispatch is another amazing piece of filmmaking in this writer and director’s vast and incredible oeuvre.

Author : Kevin Stanley