Wes Anderson returned on October 22 with his eccentric visual and narrative style in his new film “The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun”. The film consists of three different storylines involving the production of the latest issue of an American newspaper in France and received critical acclaim for its star-studded cast and Anderson’s distinct aesthetic, but its tone sets it apart from other films. light at the cinema.
The film begins with the death of Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray), the editor of “The French Dispatch” newspaper. According to his wishes, the publication should end after the printing of a final issue comprising three past articles. The first article, titled “The Concrete Masterpiece,” follows Moses Rosenthaler (Benicio del Toro), an artist serving a prison sentence for murder who paints an abstract nude portrait of prison officer Simone (Léa Seydoux). His art is causing a sensation, but he struggles against a lack of inspiration. The second article, titled “Revisions to a Manifesto,” follows Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand), a journalist covering a student protest that escalates into a revolution. Despite her insistence on maintaining journalistic integrity, she engages in a romantic relationship with the leader of the revolt Zeffirelli (Timothée Chalamet). The third article, titled “The Police Commissioner’s Private Dining Room,” follows Roebuck Wright (Jeffrey Wright), who attended a private dinner with local police that was interrupted by an abduction.
Anderson’s unique camera work and artistic color palette prevail in all three stories, as it illustrates a narrative like no other. In the opening minutes of the film, it is evident from the bright pastel color scheme and slow motion that this is a production by Wes Anderson, which was perhaps the most captivating part of the film. Stylistically, the film is innovative and brilliant. Anderson plays with the framing, the composition of the image and the aspect ratios as he goes from color film to black and white. He uses still shots to capture the action, and the juxtaposition of stillness and movement creates an intriguing effect. Her use of graphic design and typography to illustrate the introduction of each story, which simultaneously acted as a magazine section, was a brilliant touch that added to the overall aesthetic of the film.
The cast is made up of renowned and award-winning actors, who perfectly perform their roles, bringing the story to life. Bill Murray and Owen Wilson, who have a long history of working with Anderson, play the paper’s editor and an editor, respectively. Their characters are based on real people who worked for “The New Yorker”. Every role in the film seemed to be filled by critically acclaimed actors: Tilda Swinton, Benicio del Toro, Léa Seydoux, Timothée Chalamet, Frances McDormand and Mathieu Amalric are just a fraction of the cast. The cast list, alongside Anderson’s distinct aesthetic, is what makes the film particularly intriguing to viewers.
That being said, the film is not a lightweight watch. The three stories are only loosely related in that they are articles published in a magazine. Otherwise, these are fully stand-alone stories. At times, it can seem difficult to understand exactly what Anderson is trying to convey, as the stories are told ambiguously. Additionally, it can be difficult for viewers to connect with any of the characters, as each story leaves viewers with little time to empathize with anyone. The ideas he explores – such as loneliness, family, and love – are interesting, but often Anderson’s message can be quite blurry for the average viewer.
Maybe it wasn’t meant to be the average moviegoer’s cup of tea. Maybe for Anderson, it was meant to be a passion project, a way for him to express his love for journalism and film. Perhaps the film was not created for reasons of sales or popularity, but rather for its own expression. Even though the film is boring, Anderson’s obvious passion is undoubtedly worth appreciating.
With its stunning visuals and brilliant themes, “The French Dispatch” is not a bad movie. It primarily appeals to Anderson fans, and ordinary viewers may find it difficult to understand or even find pleasure due to its confusing storylines and abundance of hidden meanings. If you are looking for a simple movie to give half your attention to, then “The French Dispatch” may not be for you. However, if you are a longtime Anderson fan or movie enthusiast who wants an aesthetically unique piece of art that explores deeper subjects, then this will satisfy your wishes.
Grace Tu is an Entertainment Intern for the Fall 2021 term. She can be contacted at [email protected]