Wes Anderson’s ‘The French Dispatch’: complicated, but whimsical

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Defne Onal managing editor 

The French Dispatch,” like all of Wes Anderson’s movies, is delightfully unconventional at its best and convoluted at its worst. Unfortunately, some parts of the movie are hard to understand, meaning re-watching certain scenes is necessary to fully understand the movie. While the intricacy of Anderson’s movies can be irritating, it means that his films require more higher-order thinking. 

The movie centers around the final issue of the magazine, The French Dispatch of the Liberty in the Kansas Evening Sun, following the death of its editor-in-chief, Arthur Howitzer, Jr, played by Bill Murray. The magazine reruns an anthology of three of its best stories and Howitzer’s eulogy.  The movie also serves as a tribute to the New Yorker magazine, with its high standards, cartoonish writers, strict office culture and famed font. 

Herbsaint Sazerac, played by Owen Wilson, starts the film with a fascinating bicycle tour of Ennui-Sur-Blasé, which hilariously translates to “boredom-on-weary” in English, which is the city the magazine’s French quarters are in. Normally, screenwriters use a three-act structure to create one set-up, one conflict and one resolution.  The only problem with the anthology structure of the movie is that each of the three stories shown serve as an independent film, meaning that there are three or more resolutions in one movie. As a result, by the time of the film’s last story (a food review that turns into a child’s kidnapping), people were checking their watch for when the movie was going to be over.   

Despite the movie’s length, it was satirically hilarious. The second story is about a student protest, starring reporter Lucinda Krementz, played by Frances McDormand, and student-leader Zeffirelli, played by Timothée Chalamet. One student blames Lucinda for not maintaining “journalistic neutrality” during the dissent because she slept with Zeffirelli and edited the student manifesto. This is satirically hilarious to many journalists but might be hard for other people to understand. 

In truth, if I were living in Ennui, I would grab myself a copy of the French Dispatch. However, the movie does require a second viewing because of how complicated it is. 

Highlights rates “The French Dispatch” a 3/5. 

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