The French Dispatch (15)Cast: Saoirse Ronan, Frances McDormand, Timothee Chalamet, Lea Seydoux, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody
Author(s): Wes Anderson
Director: Wes Anderson
Release Date: 22/10/2021
Running Time: 108mins
Arthur Howitzer Jr is editor of The French Dispatch, a supplement of the Liberty Kansas Evening Sun written by American ex-pats based in the fictional French town of Ennui-sur-Blase where the scent of revolution hangs in the air. When he dies, the staff including beret-wearing travel writer Herbsaint Sazerac, cartoonist Hermes Jones and copy editor Alumna reminisce on the high-brow publication's golden years and prepare words of wisdom for a final edition.
LondonNet Film Review
The French Dispatch (15)
Writer-director Wes Anderson lassos an all-star cast including Adrien Brody, Timothee Chalamet, Benicio del Toro, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Lea Seydoux, Tilda Swinton and Jeffrey Wright for a quixotic comedy of errors set in the offices of the titular magazine. A lustrous valentine to journalism and the power of the written word, The French Dispatch is blessed with the filmmaker’s signature visual style and some dazzling flourishes like a car chase during a kidnapping, which unfolds at breakneck speed in animation rather than live action…
The script is structured as three vignettes penned by different contributors: The Concrete Masterpiece by art critic JKL Berensen (Swinton), Revisions To A Manifesto by Lucinda Krementz (McDormand) and The Private Dining Room – Of The Police Commissioner by food critic Roebuck Wright (Wright). This intentionally disjointed form of storytelling lacks the emotional resonance and offbeat running jokes of Anderson’s finest confections, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom, but there is still much to savour in each offbeat chapter.
A candy-coloured framing device introduces us to Arthur Howitzer Jr (Murray), editor of The French Dispatch, a supplement of the Liberty Kansas Evening Sun written by American ex-pats based in the fictional French town of Ennui-sur-Blase where the scent of revolution hangs in the air. Howitzer is a man of few but meaningful words. “Just make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose,” he tells one contributor. When he dies, the staff including beret-wearing travel writer Herbsaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson), cartoonist Hermes Jones (Jason Schwartzman) and copy editor Alumna (Elisabeth Moss) reminisce on the high-brow publication’s golden years and prepare words of wisdom for a final edition.
Berensen documents the efforts of art dealer Julien Cadazio (Brody) to acquire a painting by convict Moses Rosenthaler (del Toro) of his muse, prison guard Simone (Seydoux). Krementz relays her personal involvement in a student uprising led by Zeffirelli (Chalamet) and his girlfriend Juliette (Lyna Khoudri) akin to the 1968 riots which sent shockwaves through Paris. Finally, Wright serves up the tall tale of Lieutenant Nescafier (Stephen Park), a pioneer of the gastronomic art of police cooking, who witnesses the abduction of the son of the commissaire (Mathieu Amalric).
The French Dispatch feels like an amuse-bouche compared to the meaty main courses of Anderson’s previous work but the writer-director still tickles our palette with an assortment of complementary flavours. Sweet romance is undercut by bitter regret and laced with wry humour. The filmmaker’s devilish wit is in the smallest details of his on-screen designs including judicious use of split screens to construct a detailed history of the town that Howitzer and his team call home. Bon voyage.
– Jo Planter
London Cinemas Showing The French Dispatch
From: Friday 14th January
To: Thursday 20th January
Fri 17:45; Mon 14:45; Wed 11:00
Fri/Sat/Mon/Wed 12:50 18:10; Sun 14:45 19:45; Tue/Thu 15:30 20:45
From: Friday 21st January
To: Thursday 27th January
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