THE FRENCH DISPATCH – Rated R – 1 hr. 48 mins.

“Just try to make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose….”  Arthur Howitzer, Jr.

DIRECTOR:  Wes Anderson

WRITERS:  Wes Anderson (Screenplay) Story by Roman Coppola and Hugo Guinness

STARRING:  Bill Murray, Elizabeth Moss, Owen Wilson, Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Lea Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothee Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Steve Park, Henry Winkler, Bob Balaban, Lois Smith, Lyna Khoudri, Live Schreiber, Ed Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Angelica Huston and Willem DaFoe

This Review is brought to you by Kathy Kaiser

(From L-R): Elisabeth Moss, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Fisher Stevens and Griffin Dunne in the film THE FRENCH DISPATCH. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation All Rights Reserved
Léa Seydoux in the film THE FRENCH DISPATCH. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved
(From L-R): Bill Murray, Wally Wolodarsky and Jeffrey Wright in the film THE FRENCH DISPATCH. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2021 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

Directed by the unconventional and incomparable Writer/Director Wes Anderson, who has brought us some funny, and very intellectually stimulating films over the last few decades, like THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (2001), MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012) and one of my favorite animated feature films ever, ISLE OF DOGS (2018), comes a journalist’s masterpiece of storytelling, as we embark into to the life of Arthur Howitzer, Jr. (Bill Murray), and his Kansas born and bred magazine, the French Dispatch.  And as we meet the many quirky journalists who are constantly sitting in front of their typewriters to work for Mr. Howitzer, including J.K.L. Berensen (Tilda Swinton), our favorite bicycling madman Herbsaint Sazerac (Owen Wilson), and a couple more along the way, we find ourselves being whisked away into the stories these writers must pen, and share, set in the middle of 20th Century France, yet being published in the middle of the cornfields of Kansas…

Now, as strange as this concept may seem, this latest creation from Anderson seems to inherently flow with ease, as we find ourselves engrossed in the life of psychopath and killer, Moses Rosenthaler (Benicio Del Toro), who has found his passion for painting in the walls of prison, creating contemporary views of his favorite nude model, prison Garde Simone (Lea Seydoux).  And even as this bizarre entanglement plays out, who would have thought that Moses work would catch the eye of fellow inmate, and art dealer Julian Cadazio (Adrien Brody), who is hell bent on making lots of dough off his find, even if the Artist he’s found, is totally certifiable!  Next up in our anthology of stories, we find ourselves in the mixed-up world of Journalist Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand), who as her research for her next big story unfolds, finds herself keeping company with her subject, the much younger and illustrious Zeffirelli (Timothe’e Chalamet).  And as the intellectual stimulation that draws them together, soon finds its way to stimulate more than that, Zeffirelli wants to find a way to coexist with Maid Krementz without the judgement of the outside world seeping in, or his mother’s interference either…

And just when you think the storylines unfolding are about to end, enter Roebuck Wright (Jeffrey Wright) and his compelling Police Commissioner tale, intertwining the worlds of great cuisine, with kidnapping, as you travel the sights, sounds and distinct colorations of France, throughout each and every tale…

From the very first seen on screen, to its last, THE FRENCH DISPATCH screams of the uncharacteristic filmmaking, only Anderson creates.  Whether you find yourself falling in love with its ever-present distinctly shot, colorful scenes all throughout France, or it’s twist and turns into black and white, and then into the scenes of animation, as they change the mood of the story unfolding, this fabulous film will have you leaving the theater, very entertained, yet wanting more.   The only flaw for me throughout this one, is that I wish that the Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Murray, would have been given a lot more screen time, when it was all said and done.

But with that said, there is no guessing in my mind why the audience at the Cannes Film Festival gave this film, and Wes Anderson too, a much deserving, extended standing ovation!  The French Dispatch is by far not only one of Anderson’s best films, but one of the year’s best films too, as between the fabulous ALL STAR cast throughout, and the wonderfully fulfilling stories, this one is a real winner!  And even if Anderson’s abstract sensibilities in filmmaking aren’t your cup-of-tea…You owe it to yourself, and your favorite person on the planet too, to venture out to a theater near you to catch THE FRENCH DISPATCH this weekend.  It’s legendary filmmaking at its finest, and please, do tell, everyone you know!!!

9/10

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