The French Dispatch (2021)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Maybe with good luck we’ll find what eluded us in the places we once called home.

Sometimes movies are love letters. Those frames become eulogies that acquire a narrative meaning within the story. While the director takes advantage of the resources of cinematographic language to unfold his story, each sequence becomes an apology to something or someone. With The French Dispatch (2021) Wes Anderson composes his love letter to journalists and to journalism. With the rigor that characterizes him, he reassembles a staging that fascinates, intrigues and surprises. In a way, his cinema has always been a reverence for art, and each project exudes his personal brand throughout. It is impossible not to recognize his work just by looking at a shot of one of his films.

A heart attack unexpectedly takes the life of Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Bill Murray), editor of The French Dispatch magazine. To honor his will, his team will definitively cease publication with a final edition that will contain three previously published articles and an obituary. It is here where the script by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola and Hugo Guinness begins to unfold their different narrative lines that pursue a point of confluence. The film takes us on an amazing journey that describes the creation of those three articles that will shape that last edition. The French Dispatch uses the visual aspect to catch our attention, the successful use of the color palette by the director is just one of the elements that give life to that sketch that takes shape with each line recited by the characters and with each shot.

Cheaper by the dozen

If something has been a constant in Anderson’s cinema, in addition to Bill Murray, it is the use of casts loaded with stars. His adequacy in handling so many talents and getting them all to their peak is amazing. It is not only the conception of the character and its structure but also how each interpreter performs in the staging. We can start with that Moses Rosenthaler played by Benicio Del Toro, an unlikely genius and a portent of painting who finds inspiration in his caretaker Simone (Léa Seydoux). The always versatile Tilda Swinton becomes J.K.L. Berensen to tell us the story of Moses and Simone. From another angle comes Zeffirelli (Timothée Chalamet) the rebellious Frenchman who finds a sense of direction in his teacher Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand). This is how this immense cast parades across the screen until it reaches Jeffrey Wright who puts on the shoes of a certain Roebuck Wright and tells us the story entitled “The Police Commissioner’s Private Dining Room.”

In the chaotic and dispersed universe of The French Dispatch, editor Arthur Howitzer Jr. is the compass that allows his team of journalists to reach a safe harbor and is also the anchor that supports the boat. With his genius Wes Anderson invents a world that from fiction gives us a taste of reality and takes us into the bowels of a publication and all the obstacles that must be overcome before an edition reaches the readers’ hands. Its humor, the great production design of Adam Stockhausen (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom), the cinematography of Robert D. Yeoman (The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom) and the music of Alexandre Desplat (The Queen, Argo) are they combine perfectly to conceive a solid film destined to stand the test of time.

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