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The French Dispatch (2021)


The French Dispatch is Wes Anderson’s latest film. We are back to live-action after his last film Isle of Dogs. The film is set in the fictitious French city of Ennui. Much like The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson was able to frame every shot in the urban environment with over-saturated buildings. If Dennis Villeneuve paints the landscape in Dune, then Wes Anderson is part of the pop art craze.

The film is an anthology of four stories being compiled for the last issue of The French Dispatch. This film is a love letter from Wes Anderson to The New Yorker. He brings their long-form articles to the screen. I do not know it for a fact, I just know it is true, but Wes Anderson finishes reading every edition of The New Yorker cover to cover as soon as it gets to his mailbox. It is a bold move to focus his film so narrowly.

I have not read many New Yorker articles, but I doubt they flow together. By splitting this film into four distinct pieces there is little effort to tie all of them together. The first and shortest section is an introduction to Ennui which is a simple table setting used for the remaining three stories. I was not emotionally moved by the film either. There is a love triangle in one section, but it is far from Anderson’s best live story, Moonrise Kingdom.

A friend told me that this is a Wes Anderson directed Parody of a Wes Anderson film. There is no way to mistake who created this film. Anderson has a style that many people like. Sometimes he also has a message, but not here. This is a wonderful pop art piece best enjoyed at home with a pause button. There are so many details in some shots that you cannot possibly recognize them all in real-time. It says a lot about a movie when you want to pause it to find set dressing as opposed to letting it continue so you can advance the plot. Even die-hard Wes Anderson fans may think he has gone too far with this film.

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