The French Dispatch

Wes Anderson’s star-stuffed anthology film The French Dispatch recreates the simple pleasure of losing yourself in a long read

Film Review by Patrick Gamble | 13 Oct 2021
  • The French Dispatch
Film title: The French Dispatch
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Bill Murray, Jeffrey Wright , Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Owen Wilson, Christoph Waltz, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Liev Schreiber, Elisabeth Moss, Willem Dafoe, Lois Smith, Saoirse Ronan, Cécile de France, Guillaume Gallienne, Jason Schwartzman, Tony Revolori, Rupert Friend, Henry Winkler, Bob Balaban, Anjelica Huston
Release date: 22 Oct
Certificate: 12A

A pastiche of sophisticated literary magazines like The New Yorker, The French Dispatch sees the American director Wes Anderson refine his distinctive style with a touch of Parisian panache.

Bill Murray stars as the editor of a weekly supplement reporting from the fictitious French town of Ennui-Sur-Blasé. We join him and his team of writers as they assemble the magazine’s final edition, which includes a travel guide, three feature articles and an obituary. Taking the form of an anthology film, Anderson’s latest recreates the simple pleasure of losing yourself in a long read. From a profile about a convicted murderer who finds redemption through art to a culinary crime caper recounted by Jeffrey Wright doing his best James Baldwin impression, each story speaks to the power of ideas and the allure of inspiration.

Anderson currently resides in Paris, and this ardent Francophile takes much influence here from directors like Jaques Tati, Jean-Luc Godard and Jacques Demy. But he also draws inspiration from the sartorial aloofness of 20th-century Parisian fashion, yé-yé pop music, and the ligne claire aesthetic of Hergé’s The Adventures of Tintin. The result feels like stepping into a fanciful time machine and arriving in a version of post-war Europe that has only ever existed on the Big Screen.

Anyone who finds Anderson’s films too mannered or whimsical are unlikely to be won over, but for those who share his fondness for long-form essays and continental culture, The French Dispatch is a rich and absorbing delight.