The French Dispatch (2021)

french dispatch poster 2021 movie
7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking, good cast

Underused cast, dull storytelling

Movie Info

Movie Name:  The French Dispatch

Studio: Movie Studio

Genre(s): Movie Genre

Release Date(s): Movie Release Date

MPAA Rating: Movie Rating

french dispatch arthur howilzer jr dead bill murray jason schwartzman jeffrey wright

How do you honor your boss?

The Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun has a successful foreign bureau located in French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé.  The bureau is run by Arthur Howitze, Jr. (Bill Murray) who has suddenly passed from a heart attack…but the news must go on!  The latest edition of The French Dispatch will be its last, and The French Dispatch has stories to tell.  From a bicycle tour of the city to an insane and imprisoned artist to a kidnapped child, the paper will be published as Arthur Howitzer Jr. sees fit…and live up to the standards that it has set for years.

Written and directed by Wes Anderson (with additional stories by Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness, and Jason Schwartzman), The French Dispatch (sometimes known by the longer title of The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun) is a comedy anthology.  Following Anderson’s Isle of Dogs in 2018, the film’s release was delayed due to COVID-19 but received positive reviews.

Wes Anderson definitely fills a niche, and he is polarizing.  I like him but even within Wes Anderson films, there are films I like more and less…The French Dispatch is one of the lesser Wes Anderson films in my book.

french dispatch benicio del toro lea seydoux

An artist and his muse

Anderson writes in unapologetically quirky writing.  This writing style works if everything comes together.  The movie doesn’t quite all meet up in this entry.  The film is an anthology and the anthology is rather uneven.  The first “story” is rather short and gives a tour of the town (which is probably necessary to establish the basic scene and feel), but then it is followed by two longer stories which fit the theme of a largely white, middle to upper-class magazine college educated like The New Yorker (which the film is mimicking), but it feels like there should be one or two more stories with shorter lengths (or even a couple mini-stories).

The cast is great.  Anderson brings his normal players.  With short stories (based on articles), most of the cast doesn’t get that much room to explore their characters which is a shame since they are such good actors.  Owen Wilson, Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Léa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Henry Winkler, Bob Balaban, Live Schreiber, Jeffrey Wright, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Christoph Waltz, Frances McDormand, and Timothée Chalamet are just part of the cast…and there are too many to ever get a fair shake.

french dispatch animation

Wackiness ensues!

The movie looks great.  Anderson’s aesthetics are classic and he’s finessed them for years.  The sets, the colors, and the framing are all classic Anderson.  In that sense they create a great image and if you’ve never seen an Anderson film, you might be wowed by them.  If you are frequent Anderson watcher, you might wish he’d change or develop his style a bit.

The French Dispatch is another good entry in Anderson’s catalogue of movies, but it isn’t the best entry by far.  I sometimes wish for some of Anderson’s simpler movies like Rushmore when watching his newer movies and while watching The French Dispatch, I kind of wanted to be watching another of Anderson’s “middle period” like Moonrise Kingdom or The Grand Budapest Hotel.  I will always like Anderson however and look forward to seeing what he’ll do next.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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