Review: “The French Dispatch”

Arts & Entertainment

Nolen Kelly, Editor

I’m a very big Wes Anderson fan. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” is the best animated movie I have ever seen immediately followed by Anderson’s other animated film “Isle of Dogs,” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is one of the best comedies of the 2010’s and I will stop there because I could talk about every other movie of his and how significant they are to me. As of writing this, I am three movies away from finishing Anderson’s eccentric catalog of movies with my most recent viewing being the focal point of this article: “The French Dispatch.” As a writer, movie enjoyer and watcher of fine stuff: Wes Anderson’s works have all always spoken to a different part of me but none have looked me in my eyes and said “Hey, man, this is for you” quite like “The French Dispatch” has.

The French Dispatch

“The French Dispatch” is about the death of the editor-in-chief of the Kansas Evening Sun newspaper in Liberty, Kansas and the release of the final issue of the paper, “The French Dispatch,” told through four stories of the paper’s different sections. Written from the perspectives of a cyclist in a crazed town, an imprisoned and tortured artist, the young leader of a rebellion and a food writer who gets entangled in a kidnapping, respectively, each of the four interview stories offers its own fun but emotional story that, in each of their unique ways, are love letters to journalists and writers.

Searchlight Entertainment

Writers and Stories

As I previously stated, this movie is the final edition of “The French Dispatch” told through four different stories and interviews that offer something unique to the journalists they pay tribute to. Although I’m just a silly writer, I still felt like this movie was made for me. I don’t really know how to explain it, but this movie was crafted with pure love. Despite stories of a seedy town, a war, the kidnapping of a child and a violent prisoner, this movie wants to give you a hug. Each of the stories is like a mini-Anderson movie in a bigger movie so they all have that special touch to them that he brings to all of his movies. They have sweet endings and some epilogues to each story that make you feel good or sad. Personally, I thought Timothee Chalamet’s (“Dune” “Lady Bird”) section went a tad too long but every time they played that entrancing Jarvis Cocker song “Aline” I felt good and sad simultaneously. 

Celebrity News

This movie is stacked with talent. Every scene is filled with at least three big names in combinations we probably never knew we would see. There comes a point where there are probably too many people in this movie. Excessive casts are cool to see with so many people appearing in a single movie but of course not everyone is given enough space to do their thing. 

However, the majority of the cast does a pretty solid job making themselves visible. Much of the primary cast has some great performances but I wouldn’t say one was more stand out than any other. Rattling off a few great performances include Jeffery Wright (“Westworld,” “Casino Royale”), Timothee Chalamet (“Dune,” “Lady Bird”), Benicio Del Toro (“Traffic,” “Sicario”), Lea Seydoux (“Spectre,” “Death Stranding”) and for those familiar with the Nolen lore, it should be no surprise I also loved Frances McDormand (“Fargo,” “Almost Famous”). Again, pretty much every performance was solid and consistent. 

Moses Rosenthaler (Benicio del Toro) is a criminally insane but gifted painter, and prison guard Simone (Léa Seydoux, right) is his muse in “The French Dispatch.” (Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures)

Arts Section

The movie is told through the past and present with the past shown in black and white and the present gushing with an almost intoxicating amount of Anderson’s usual bright yet simple color palettes. Even in black and white this is a crisp looking film. Although the look of the present was way more visually appealing and pretty, it was never annoying that half the movie was in black and white. An Anderson movie in all black and white sounds interesting and I would watch it, but he is so good with colors and his movies are dang pretty as heck and I would be sad if there were no colors in one of his flicks. If anything, the colors always enhance his shots and frames in each movie which nicely leads me to my next point: the production in “The French Dispatch” is unsurprisingly, really good. 

I’m a fan of the use of simplistic theater-like sets in some scenes. It makes the scenes that featured these sets feel like stories the characters are telling. Mitch Mitch’s story taking place on a stage was nice, the movable walls at the French cafe and the construction sites were satisfying, and the empty room that Del Toro paints Seydoux is isolated and empty yet intimate with a single snowy window in the back. I already assumed this movie would look good but the scenes with these little set designs are nice touches that I hope Anderson does more work with in future films and projects. 

Searchlight Entertainment


“The French Dispatch” is a wonderful movie. The music, performances, colors, stories and writing are all so much fun and so damn charming. I think I’ve only seen one Anderson movie so far that I’m not running like Scooby-Doo to rewatch (“Bottle Rocket”) but I know for a fact I will be rewatching this again soon. This movie was a big hug for me but that does not totally mean it will be for everyone else and I would say go into this, if you do, just expecting to watch a good movie like any other movie. I loved this and I hope you love it too if you so choose to watch it. “The French Dispatch” is now available on HBOMax.

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