Thursday, October 28, 2021

The French Dispatch - Review


Everyone generally knows what they’re getting when name Wes Anderson appears on screen. The classic elements are all there: some colorful production design, a handful of charming characters, and enough quirkiness to rival just about anything throughout history. However, this time things are a bit different. It’s an anthology film this time, connecting each subsequent sequence of whimsy with one thread and essentially throwing any emotional involvement in the process. 

A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in "The French Dispatch."

Marketed as Wes Anderson’s ode to journalism, The French Dispatch is, in reality, only half that. The journalism that Anderson is interested in portraying is not that of those who report the news, but the rather those who tell stories using the materials of the real world to provide insight into the human experience. It’s the kind of storytellers suited to Anderson’s sensibilities, and it’s a pursuit that’s commendable, even if it’s almost too much of a good thing. 

The film is structured to showcase the articles of the titular publication’s final issue, utilizing five different sections of the 75-page issue. Some are better than others, as it goes in anthology formats. But each serve to provide ample opportunity for the calculated filmmaking of Wes Anderson. From plenty of diorama-esque shots of frozen actors and props to the animated sequences in the final lengthy article of the film, each section feels like Anderson utilizing his skills to look at the emotions and humanity behind these stories. 

Yet, there is an overlying issue at play here. Anderson’s reliance on narration is prominent here, being used to highlight each writer’s thoughts and sometimes the written word itself. It’s densely written words on top of an even more dense visual composition, and the whole equation adds up to an exhausting display of stimuli at any given moment in the film. It’s an excess of what makes Wes Anderson great, and will likely cause the film to fade amidst his other directing efforts. 

The French Dispatch feels must more suited to the periodic viewing of the better stories within, than viewing the whole film together. It’s not a long film, but there are parts where it can feel like it’s dragging. The film contains all the elements that Wes Anderson fans will love, so anyone whose loved his films before will assuredly love this one too. But it’s hard to imagine that this outing will ever match the others in impact or longevity.

No comments :

Post a Comment