The French Dispatch (2021) Review

Cited as a love letter to journalists which is set at an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional French city that brings to life collections of stories published in The French Dispatch.


The death of newspaper editor Arthur Howitzer Jr. will see the end to The French Dispatch as on his death it was ordered that it would be immediately suspended and we are then taken on a journey to explore the final articles that would be put into the farewell issue. This includes three articles from past editions of the paper to be republished along with an obituary for him.

We are then taken back to look at the different stories that are considered and being looked at by Howitzer before his sudden death of a heart attack. This means that we are given totally different subject areas with many different characters as the different reporters/writers explain everything around the research for each article. I found these stories a little difficult and long at times as they seemed to go on and on without any real end point, I am certainly meaning the “Revisions to a Manifesto” and “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner” sections as I really enjoyed “The Concrete Masterpiece” story.

Wes Anderson has a very unique style when it comes to his filmmaking and to be brutally honest I actually find myself struggling with this. I think I just quite frankly miss the point he is trying to make at times. The French Dispatch is made up of shorter stories all linked to the magazine articles. However, parts are a little bit boring in the actual story. The different scenes naturally look fantastic as the way he uses many colours is utterly breathtaking, not needing everything to match within the scenes and having them all at once in your face on the screen. Adding in the odd animated sequence as well is certainly another Anderson trademark, that worked well within in the story telling.

The performances were decent, with some actors having a little bit more screen time than the others. It boasts a very big cast with some of Anderson’s usual suspects. Benicio Del Toro was probably the standout for me, I really thought he was impressive. Something that was truly criminal though was the lack of screen time for Elisabeth Moss, seriously she should have had a bigger role! I guess the same came be said for Saoirse Ronan as well. I am enjoying the progress in Lea Seydoux’ career choices though so for her to have one of the bigger parts in this film was pleasing. Adrien Brody was another standout as well as Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton who both easily steal scenes with their presence. Jeffrey Wright is another actor who I just adore watching on screen, in this I only wished he had more time on screen!

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