The French Dispatch (2021) | Review
by Rory Buccheri
I embark on this journey taking me to the heart of another of Wes Anderson’s epic stories. I have tried to stay away from reviews and online columns for the past few weeks, so I go in blind. There are only two things that I know about the movie: it’s inspired by the New Yorker and it’s directed by Wes Anderson, whose cinematic genius I have come to adore in the past years.
The movie is divided in four parts, each narrating a detached story and based on one particular section of the newspaper magazine: news, local, arts, and life and style. The black and white featuring in most scenes emphasises the suspension in time, also serving as a connecting thread between the completely different stories.
Each has something very Andersonian to offer: the ridicule to the art world, the phantasmagoric attempted neutrality of news, the hilarious and tragic mixing perfectly in a story about taste and flavour.
Not least, wordplays such as ‘typographic memory’: ‘I recall you have a photographic memory, sir’ the interviewer asks. ‘Typographic memory. I can remember every paragraph, every love letter, every note I’ve ever written.’ I like to think of this bit as a meta into the script-learning that is beyond all these scenes, so natural yet part of a brilliantly constructed world. When it comes to magically constructed worlds, Wes Anderson hardly ever disappoints. Yet, despite the impressive endeavour in each story, when put all together they are somewhat dissonant. The creativity shines through, but the single narratives create each their own small climax, which results in a rather dull-moving, anticlimactic overall picture overall.
Leaving the cinema, I have a bittersweet feeling: even though I am still seeing the Wes Anderson genius, that The French Dispatch may be the dullest of his films so far.
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