The French Dispatch

Starring: Benecio Del Toro, Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Tulsa Swinton, Frances McDormand, Timothee Chalamet, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Henry Winkler, Jeffrey Wright, Saorise Ronan, Owen Wilson, Lois Smith, Tony Revolutions, Anjelica Bette Fellini, Willem Dafoe, Christopher Waltz, Anjelica Huston, Liev Schrieber, Lea Seymour, Alex Lawther, Rupert Friend, Griffin Dunne, Fisher Stevens, and Jason Schwartzman.

Directed By Wes Anderson

Where I Watched It: Apple (VOD)

English Audio Description Available?: Yes

The Plot:Follows three different journalistic accounts told by reporters of the fictitious French Dispatch of the Kansas Evening Sun, an American outpost set in a fictional city in France. Truly, this film is impossible to truly describe briefly.

What Works: Well, true to form, Wes Anderson managed to attract all of Hollywood into one movie. He must be the nicest guy to work with because these people keep coming back, and his roster keeps growing and getting deeper. I’d be lying if I made any sort of claim that this was either Wes Anderson’s best, or the best film of the year. It’s a tough year, and Anderson has one hell of a career as a director. IBut this is not his worst work either. Somewhere in the middle.

i felt compelled to watch this after watching Joel Coen direct a very non-Coen feeling Tragedy of MacBeth, and Wes Anderson rejuvenated my headspace by reminding me that his films are just as Wes Anderson as ever. This film is so quirky, so offbeat, so eccentric, that it truly can only be written and directed by one man.

And the cast is fully up to the task, though because of the nature of the movie being broken into different stories, and the massive ensemble, it’s next to impossible to distinguish any one player above the rest. They just all contribute equally as perfect moving parts of the film, understanding Anderson’s vibe and presenting his eccentricities with all their glory. Anderson knows how to pick them, and I’m actually surprised this didn’t get a SAG nomination for Best Ensemble.

What Doesn’t Work; Like I said, it’s just not his best work. Sure, there were parts that I laughed out loud, and some references and lines I’ll remember for quite a while. No crying. But, as a whole, I’m not sure I’ll want to revisit this the same way i do with many other Anderson classics like Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, or The Grand Budapest Hotel.

instead, I have a film that just restored my faith that Wes beers on is doing just fine and is just as creative as ever. And not everything always needs to top itself. Sometimes, it’s OK to just make a solid film, and not worry about it being your career high.

I appreciated all the quirky qualities, but I’m not sure fracturing the story ended up strengthening the finished product. Instead of being told in parts, as three short stories, I think there’s a different version that could have just been as madcap with one through storyline that still hit all these parts. i believe if anyone could have pulled it off, it’s Anderson. I would say he took the easy road here by breaking the story up.

The Blind Perspective; What a valiant effort to try and give me a full experience. Very descriptive. The truth is, and I know from having visually seen Wes Anderson films before losing vision, that it is truly impossible to capture what makes Wes Anderson and his visual style so incredibly and instantly recognizable. I can only imagine what this actually looked like, the production design, the costumes, the color schemes, everything. He’s a very visual director, and the audio description just can’t give us that total experience, but it did make an effort.

Final Thoughts: While I will never put this in my Top 5 Wes Anderson films, and I definitely saw at least 10 better films this year that would keep me from putting this in the Best Picture category, this is still a really strong effort from Anderson. He’s true to form, and the ensemble, which is astounding, showed up to play. It’s biggest crime is that Anderson has an impossible task of topping himself every time out of the gate, and there just were a few better films this year. But I’d still strongly recommend this.

Final Grade: A-

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