By Clay Thompson | Intern
Well, Wes Anderson has done it again. I wasn’t sure if he could pull off a movie anthology, but he did it. His signature style of cinematography, editing and acting have returned in full force for “The French Dispatch,” a love letter to journalism and the people who practice it. This is not a hard-hitting journalistic piece about hard-nosed reporters getting the big scoop, as the review for the New York Times puts it. Instead, it showcases four stories from four different areas of news to bring to life the people behind the stories they tell, as well as the stories themselves.
While those who are familiar with Anderson’s directorial style of filmmaking might be expecting more whimsical and fantastical plots and themes, he’s somehow able to ground this particular film through the use of exceedingly well-paced emotional connection and hubristic humor laced throughout each story. The final issue of the French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun, a fictional magazine run by a strict, no-nonsense editor Arthur Howitzer Jr., played by the incomparable Bill Murray, takes the film to another level.
Each story in the film is narrated through the eyes of the journalists who wrote them. While each story is exceptional in its own way, I feel that personally, the most lacking of them was “The Concrete Masterpiece,” a story about the arts. It was a wonderfully told story — thank you again, Tilda Swinton — but unfortunately, I felt it lacked some of the emotional gravitas the other story was about to tell. But then again, maybe that was the point; who really knows with Wes Anderson?
For me personally, it’s hard to find a negative in Wes Anderson movies, but I guess I can say that for those who aren’t interested in more unconventionally-told films and stories, Wes Anderson and “The French Dispatch” might not be your cup of tea. However, I would definitely recommend it to anyone willing to see it.
I feel like what resonated most to me in the film was its portrayal of journalism. So often in film and television nowadays you see either unrealistically depicted serious reporters completely obsessed with telling the story, or stereotypical annoying reporters harassing people or being corrupt. Wes Anderson turns these conventions on their heads, providing stories written by these journalists to not only inform readers about their subject matter but to show the audience pieces of the people behind the stories as well.
If you don’t get anything else out of “The French Dispatch,” then get this: It’s a story about stories and the real people that work to tell them for your benefit and enjoyment.