The French Dispatch (15)

The French Dispatch (15)

Director: Wes Anderson

Runtime: 1h48m

Cast: Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, and Owen Wilson


Synopsis: The French Dispatch is a love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city; it brings to life a collection of stories published in “The French Dispatch” magazine. 


From the visionary mind of Academy Award® nominee Wes Anderson, The French Dispatch brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city: Ennui-sur-Blasé.

Screenplay is by Wes Anderson from a story by Anderson & Roman Coppola & Hugo Guinness & Jason Schwartzman

It boasts a dizzying array of stars: Benicio del Toro [Sicario, Traffic], Adrien Brody [The Pianist, The Grand Budapest Hotel], Tilda Swinton [The Grand Budapest Hotel , Isle of Dogs], Léa Seydoux [Spectre, Oh Mercy !], Frances McDormand [Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri; Fargo], Timothée Chalamet [ Dune, Lady Bird, Call Me by Your Name], Lyna Khoudri [Savages, The Specials, Papicha], Jeffrey Wright [Westworld, The Hunger Games], Mathieu Amalric [The Grand Budapest Hotel , Sound of Metal], Stephen Park [Fargo, The Mindy Project], Bill Murray [Isle of Dogs, Lost in Translation] and Owen Wilson [Father Figures, Marley and Me].

The film also stars Liev Schreiber [Showtime’s Ray Donovan, Spotlight, Isle of Dogs], Elisabeth Moss [Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, The Invisible Man], Edward Norton [Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel ], Willem Dafoe [The Lighthouse, Spiderman], Lois Smith [Lady Bird, Ray Donovan], Saoirse Ronan [Little Women, Lady Bird],  Christoph Waltz [Django Unchained, The Legend of Tarzan], Cécile de France [Rebels, Django]), Guillaume Gallienne [Down by Love, Cezanne et Moi], Jason Schwartzman [Rushmore, Moonrise Kingdom], Tony Revolori [The Grand Budapest Hotel, Spider-Man: Homecoming],  Rupert Friend [Homeland, A Simple Favour],  Henry Winkler [Arrested Development, Barry], Bob Balaban [Isle of Dogs, The Politician), Hippolyte Girardot (Mama Weed, Inside)  and Anjelica Huston (Isle of Dogs, The Addams Family) as the Narrator.

On the occasion of the death of its beloved Kansas-born editor Arthur Howitzer, Jr., the staff of The French Dispatch, a widely circulated American magazine based in the French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé, convene to write his obituary. Memories of Howitzer flow into the creation of four stories: a travelogue of the seediest sections of the city itself from The Cycling Reporter; The Concrete Masterpiece, about a criminally insane painter, his guard and muse, and his ravenous dealers; Revisions to a Manifesto, a chronicle of love and death on the barricades at the height of student revolt; and The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner, a suspenseful tale of drugs, kidnapping and fine dining.

The French Dispatch, a high-brow magazine based in the imagined Gallic town has reached its end. Its founder (Bill Murray) has died and his beloved creation looks set to shut down operations. In doing so, its staff reflect nostalgically on the publication’s halcyon days, when the writers were as celebrated as the subjects they covered. There’s the art critic (Tilda Swinton) who regales us with the story of a jailed painter’s (Benicio Del Toro) obsession with his muse (Léa Seydoux); a political correspondent (Frances McDormand) whose ‘current affairs’ once included a young insurgent (Timothée Chalamet) during a student protest; and the rarefied food critic (Jeffrey Wright) who becomes quite the pot-au-feu when he finds himself caught up in a kidnapping plot.

Anderson is at the top of his game with this dazzling, breathlessly inventive and irrepressibly witty tribute to the New Yorker magazine and its writers. Along with his trademark shooting style – exquisitely-conceived symmetrical compositions – there is deft use of aspect ratio and seamless monochrome-to-colour shifts. And the whole thing is carried along by regular collaborator Alexandre Desplat’s wonderful score. All in all, it is an absolute treat.

The creative team includes producers Wes Anderson, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson, executive producers Roman Coppola, Henning Molfenter, Christoph Fisser and Charlie Woebcken, co-producer Octavia Peissel, director of photography Robert Yeoman A.S.C., production designer Adam Stockhausen, costume designer Milena Canonero, editor Andrew Weisblum, composer Alexandre Desplat and music supervisor Randall Poster.

The film is a billet-doux to the journalistic triumphs of the New Yorker and also to French cinema, or at least cinema set in France. The obsessive level of period design detail, huge, ever-rotating cast, onscreen typography and shifts between creamy monochrome and candy-hued colour is like a gourmet meal where the lavish courses just keep on coming.

The French Dispatch is Wes Anderson’s delightful, star-studded homage to journalism and literary magazines; it is a feast for the eyes and a whip-smart comic delight.

All in all, it’s an absolute treat which will deserve repeated viewings

In cinemas

Images courtesy of Searchlight Pictures UK

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