If you’ve ever heard of Wes Anderson, it’s probably for his distinct style in filmmaking and storytelling. Almost constant symmetrical cinematography, impressive celebrity castings, spirited dialogue, and delicately constructed sets are among the most abundant features of Anderson’s filmography, and “The French dispatch“is no exception to these rules.
Yet the film still stands out as a unique and jarring Anderson film. Unlike Anderson’s previous films, “The French Dispatch” does not have an overarching narrative. And while Anderson tends to do more episodic stories with sub-titles, his latest film opts for a more vignette narrative.
There are a total of four vignettes with a prologue and an epilogue in the story, each individually written by a different reporter for “The French Dispatch”, both the film’s namesake and a journalist. American origin located in Ennui, France (which is not a real town but rather the word for “ennui” in French).
After the editor’s death from a heart attack, reporters postpone the farewell post which contained three articles from previous editions, as well as an obituary for the editor.
In many ways, “The French Dispatch” is a parody of “The New Yorker” – even the cover of each article mimics the art style of the famous magazine. And while the comedy in this movie doesn’t make you roll around laughing, there are plenty of moments that will make you laugh.
Although there is a lot of levity, I found the film to be more particularly dramatic and somewhat melancholy. Without spoiling anything, a number of these stories have very dark moments, and the film isn’t afraid to slow down and let the mood set in. The film is more concerned with the exploration of complex ideas and scenarios than with the wacky and absurd construction. those.
While there is a lot of goofy shenanigans in the movie, I’d say around 60 to 70 percent is serious, and the 40 to 30 percent is typical Anderson-style nonsense. Although it satirizes the world, the film understands the historical context of postwar France and treats it with maturity, and the vignette structure helps to explore the complex themes and ideas that the film tackles without meander from plot A to plot B.
Another commendable quality of the film is the heavy use of black and white cameras. About half, if not the majority of the film is shot in black and white, and the cameras used for the footage look old-fashioned, containing artifacts such as a visible aperture in the corner of shots and bright lights that have yet to be seen. enter the scene.
Black and white footage also has a good implementation of shadows and light, creating more vivid and crisp images despite the lack of color. The film also does a remarkable job of showing how beautiful a black and white film can be as a color film.
Robert Yeoman should be nominated for an Oscar because there are a myriad of beautifully constructed plans. I would be remiss if I also forgot the scenography, especially since it works in conjunction with the cinematography.
In this day and age where many studios choose to place actors in massive soundstages or sophisticated green screen rooms, “The French Dispatch” reminds us that handmade sets will always be more visually impressive.
Although some CGIs are used, they are subtle and practical effects are always predominant. There are several moments when the action freezes in time and the camera slowly leans into the pandemonium.
It becomes evident that the characters are not really frozen and are just still. Puffs of smoke and sparkling champagne are now puffs of cotton. Even though the deception is obvious, practicality is still something I would always prefer over big flashy CGI effects.
Visual effects aside, the cast is, to put it simply, very good. My favorite personal performances in this film are Frances McDormand, Benicio Del Toro, Jeffrey Wright, Adrien Brody and Stephen Park.
The only performance that didn’t resonate with me was that of Timothée Chalamet, who unfortunately made the third vignette my least favorite episode of the film. That being said, this is by no means a bad performance. The other performances in this chapter outweighed my general indifference to Chalamet, which says a lot about the consistent and high quality of this film.
I got emotionally invested in most of the characters in large part thanks to the performances. They are all very skilled actors, and the movie puts them all in the spotlight adequately.
Wes Anderson’s latest film is a triumph in almost every way and is one of his greatest films to date. With the witty but heartfelt storytelling, superb cast and gorgeous visuals, there is so much to love about “The French Dispatch”.
Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of Anderson, or even if you don’t like his idiosyncratic cinema, I guarantee you will find something to admire in the film. Its signature cinematic style unexpectedly reinforces “The French Dispatch” to create one of this year’s best films.
Now that it’s currently airing in more theaters than ever before, I strongly advise against sleeping on this movie!