Movie buffs are used to seeing a whimsical use of the color palette in Wes Anderson’s films as the director sees his films as giant paintings. His latest film also brings back warm colors and surprisingly arranged scenes from the filmmaker, but this time in a story entirely devoted to journalism.
“The French Dispatch”, a love letter to the star-studded press, is composed like a magazine – think of pages glossy in its vivid colors, with loving detail and wry humor.
It’s a tribute to classic print journalism – inspired by the New Yorker.
It takes place in a fictional French town called Ennui-sur-Blase, words that translate into the boredom, apathy and weary sophistication of the world.
The city is home to the foreign affairs office of the Liberty newspaper, Kansas Evening Sun, established by Kansas-born Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray).
He and his team produce and print the supplement where the authors share their views on art, culture, politics and society in France.
Howitzer is dead, however, and his will decrees that The French Dispatch Of The Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun – the magazine’s full title – should be discontinued.
Its grieving staff, forbidden to cry in the office on Howitzer’s orders, recalls the magazine in a series of flashbacks.
We see a brief and entertaining travel account of Herbsaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson), a cycling journalist, staged in typical Anderson style with symmetrical, sometimes static, imagery in old-fashioned colors.
Throughout the episodes of the film, the imagery oscillates between color and black and white, different formats and even cartoon scenes.
“Wes is a real poet,” Léa Seydoux told Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa). “It is a free spirit who created his own language.”
Seydoux, the female lead role in James Bond’s most recent thriller “No Time to Die”, is the star of one of three longest-running stories set in 1960s France that form the heart of “The French Dispatch “.
Tilda Swinton, meanwhile, shines as an arrogant art expert who accounts for an imprisoned painter (Benicio Del Toro). Behind bars, his guardian (Seydoux) poses for him as a nude model.
Meanwhile in the political section, Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand) writes about a student revolt and its leader Zeffirelli (Timothee Chalamet).
The third story – multifaceted, although a little too long – tells the story of a journalist (Jeffrey Wright) who recalls on a talk show how he wanted to write about a famous chef and police commissioner ( Steve Park) but then got involved in a savage crime. story which also stars Mathieu Amalric, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton and Willem Dafoe.
The finale is Howitzer’s obituary. Inspired by The New Yorker magazine, the editor of “The French Dispatch” is inspired by Harold Ross, who co-founded the magazine and edited it until his death.
Anderson’s film is full of details and hints to delight the eyes and the mind. The stars are in great shape, there is a lot of humor and wonderful images. The big screen has never looked so charming.