A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional twentieth-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch Magazine”.
THE GOOD STUFF:
-STYLE AND AESTHETIC- I do understand that there are a lot and I mean a LOT of people that find his style entirely too distracting. I myself have always thought of his works like one does a painting. Even when his films don’t necessarily work story-wise, the visuals are always magnificent.
As much as we praise someone like Denis Villeneuve (Especially lately) for creating expansive, beautiful, one-of-a-kind universes, we should praise Wes Anderson in the EXACT same way.
-THE FIRST STORY- The first story in this anthology (“The Concrete Masterpiece – by J.K.L. Berensen”) about a convict painter, and his prison guard muse who become darlings of the art world, is a wonderful Wes Anderson type story. It has all the things that good Wes Anderson movies have. Benicio del Toro is quite a great fit for the stylings of Wes Anderson, as is Adrian Brody who also does quite well.
-THE GOOD ASPECTS OF THE THIRD STORY- The third story of this anthology (The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner – by Roebuck Wright) gives a glimpse of what it would look like if Wes Anderson actually did an action movie. It is a story about a police kidnapping of a child, a hostage situation gone terribly wrong, and has a shootout, a police raid, and a car chase scene.
If you think you can imagine what those scenarios would look like under the idiosyncrasies of a Wes Anderson film…. trust me you can’t. It was wonderful to be caught off guard by what I saw.
Otherwise, the third story is pretty forgetful and dull when it comes to the story itself.
THE BAD STUFF:
–THE DISASTROUS SECOND STORY- The second story (Revisions to a Manifesto – by Lucinda Krementz) is a pretty big mess. It is a story that deals with journalistic integrity, a student protest that turns into a revolution, an age gap romance that is later revealed to be a part of a full-blown love triangle, (possibly, I think), and the effects of crippling loneliness on one’s work life. That is a hell of a lot to take on, and in a perfect world, it would have been a hell of a story for Wes Anderson of all people to try to tell.
But instead, what we get is ALL of that told in ALMOST 20 minutes total screen time. To say the very least it feels rushed, it is hard to follow, the visual style of it is the worst of the three stories, it’s the least comedically told a story out of the three by far, it really diminishes the energy of the film at that point, and it completely wastes the efforts of Frances McDormand and Timothee Chalamet, who are as excellent as they always are.
THE UGLY STUFF:
-THE DIALOGUE- If one comes away not liking this film it will more than likely be because you could not understand what these characters were actually saying. It’s hard to actually describe how TEDIOUS it often is in this film to understand the sentences being spoken, All of the words that the characters are using tend to be multi-syllabic and SUPER long-winded in delivery at ALL times.
And given how dense this film is at a 105-minute running time, and the overstuffed and disjointed storytelling involving the last two stories…there’s a good chance that you might very well get lost along the way. The dialogue in this movie requires you to pay attention studiously.
And because of this, something like a wrongly timed bathroom break can leave you at a point where you are virtually INCAPABLE of following along. Overwritten to say the very, very, very, least.
Wes Anderson remains one of the truly great directors of this era, and like literally EVERY truly great director, he has his misfires. This here…is definitely the case.
THE FRENCH DISPATCH OF THE LIBERTY, KANSAS EVENING SUN is in select theatres now. Nationwide release is on Oct 30th