Magazine “La dépêche française”: An intrinsic ode to the art of journalism


Mia Oliva, Associate Reviews Editor

There’s no doubt that “The French Dispatch” is Wes Anderson’s most detailed and distinctive film to date. Anderson, who has spent much of his life immersing himself in French culture and finding inspiration in magazines such as The New Yorker, creates a film that encapsulates the beauty and artistry of journalism in his style. of director always so flamboyant and noisy.

The film is set throughout the mid-twentieth century in a fictional town in France called Ennui-sur-Blasé, which literally translates to “boredom over apathy” in typical Anderson fashion. A young and enthusiastic Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray) sets out and inherits the Sunday supplement of his father’s magazine, the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun. He makes it a vibrantly rich travelogue made up of different stories by different writers. Over time and the publication of Howitzer, what was once a small travel experience is now a published phenomenon of art, politics, cuisine, culture, and more. The film particularly draws on Howitzer’s recent passing and his testimony regarding the end of the magazine, as the writers come together to commemorate his company one last time with a melding of stories for the final edition.

Anderson does it again by presenting us with an array of quirky and distinctive characters who all have a particular purpose: to personify the aesthetics and eccentric nature that make a Wes Anderson film different from the others. It brings back some of its regulars such as Murray, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton and Frances McDormand, as well as notable new faces like Timothée Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright and Elizabeth Moss. Characters bring stories and their fictional environments to life effortlessly. This is immediately noticeable at the start of the film, as Wilson’s cycling journalist Herbsaint Sazerac takes us on an eventful tour of Ennui-sur-Blasé.

The film’s cast is undoubtedly capable in terms of range, a trait Anderson seems to admire and apply to his characters as well. For example, McDormand’s Lucinda Krementz is a deadpan writer who is fiercely dedicated to her craft. Wright’s Roebuck Wright is a passionate food journalist who finds solace in his togetherness, while Murray describes Howitzer as the intimidating editor who can be violently brutal. Unfortunately, I feel like there was wasted potential in the movie that could have made it perfect. I would have liked to see more characters played by Moss (who plays an editor) and Saoirse Ronan (who plays a junkie showgirl), for example.

As far as Anderson is concerned, the chances of being disappointed in terms of cinematography are slim. Its specialty lies in avant-garde decors and detailed color schemes, and it particularly lives up to its trademarks in “The French Dispatch”. While some may complain that Anderson’s attention to detail can detract from the actual content of his films, I would disagree. In fact, I would say his strong point is his eye for cinematography before his script writing.

What stood out to me in “The French Dispatch” apart from Anderson’s other films, was the playful and experimental character of its cinematography. While his other films have explored more meaningful themes with lessons to be learned, I feel like “The French Dispatch” was Anderson’s opportunity to experiment with his craft on a less serious level and enjoy the beauty behind the big picture while paying homage to other artists and writers.

What also strikes me most about “The French Dispatch” is knowing that not only is it Anderson’s most personal film to date, but it’s a tribute to journalists and the commitment that translates into groundbreaking stories. It creates a love letter to real-life journalists by constructing characters that reflect their accomplishments and legacy in fictional form. As an aspiring journalist myself, I saw this film as an opportunity to feel inspired and uplifted, and so it’s a film I would highly recommend to anyone with a passion for writing or arts in general.

“The French Dispatch” is now available for rental or streaming.

Artwork by Ariel Landry

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