Over the years, Wes Anderson has made a name for himself as one of the most quirky filmmakers in recent history. His love for symmetry, pastel colour pallets and oddball lead characters have made his filmography a staple for cinema fans across the globe. But is his latest work The French Dispatch fit for publishing or should it have been left on the cutting room floor?
Written by Niamh Brook
The French Dispatch tells the story of a group of journalists as they prepare to run the final issue of the titular magazine. If you walk into this looking for a film with your average three-act structure then I’m sorry but you’re going to be pretty disappointed. Instead, the film is told as a series of vignettes, visualising the stories found within the pages of the magazine’s final issue.
Whilst many have found issues with the way in which the film is structured, personally, on the other hand, absolutely loved the decision. The film is a love letter to journalists, a profession where your main goal is to paint pictures with your words, to describe things in a manner that opens people’s eyes, to makes others think. Anderson knows this, coupling his unique direction alongside his characters writings in order to bring life to their fictional pages. The decision to tell the film in a series of vignettes allows us to delve deep inside the pages of The French Dispatch, to feel as though we were life-long readers and gives us the chance to experience Anderson’s exquisite filmmaking in three separate stories. What a treat!
The three stories in question tell the story of a gifted prisoner and his guard, a group of rebellious students and the complexities of a profession known as ‘police cooking’. Now, these topics sound odd, and truth be told they are, but as many journalists tend to do, the film finds beauty in these strange little stories, giving each story great thought and attention to detail.
Anderson’s direction throughout the film is perhaps some of his best, constantly playing with form and finding the most beautiful way to convey his writer’s stories. The filmmaker plays with colour, includes gorgeously animated sequences, breaks the fourth wall and features a miniature theatre production alongside his typical eye for detail and witty visuals. The film exudes Anderson’s passion for his craft in each and every frame, with every second of the film being a treat for the eye.
This self-proclaimed love letter to journalism is a joy to watch and is arguably is one of Anderson’s best films to date as well as being one of the best films of the year! As the film drew to a close I found myself moved almost to tears, not because the film ends on a sad note, but because my time spent at the office of The French Dispatch had ended and I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.