Austin Film Festival 2020 Review: THE FRENCH DISPATCH

Rating: B+

From the very beginning, The French Dispatch is obviously very much a Wes Anderson film. Fans of the New Yorker Magazine will certainly see how Anderson’s film is a tribute to the publication. The French Dispatch is a special supplement in a fictional Kansas newspaper in the imagined town of Ennui-Sur-Blasé. The proprietor and editor is Arthur Howitzer Jr (Bill Murray). The stories are about American expatriates in France are told in a very fun way, with a myriad of well-known actors in the lead doing their best to have the audience join in on the way Wes Anderson so cleverly tells a story (Bottle Rocket and Rushmore). I found the film very entertaining and in fact want to view it again to capture all that seems to be happening in this French city.

JKL Berensen (Tilda Swinton) is an art critic writing about a convicted murderer Moses Rosenthaler (Benicio Del Toro) and the prison guard Simone (Léa Seydoux) who is his nude model and muse. The art dealer is performed by Adrien Brody. Lucinda Krementz (Frances McDormand) writes about the student revolutionary group and young leader Zeffirelli (Timothée Chalamet) who she has an affair with. And yet, he is involved with a French motorcyclist (Lyna Khoudri). Food writer Roebuck Wright (Jeffrey Wright) tells his story via a television interview to a talk show host (Liev Schreiber). His plan to interview (over dinner) a police chief, Lieutenant Nescafier (Stephen Park), is interrupted by the kidnapping of a child.

Among the three main journalist’s stories is Owen Wilson riding a bike around town, Edward Norton is a police chief and Saoirse Ronan is a criminal (and these are just a few). Anderson also includes animated sequences in his storytelling as well. Cinematographer Robert Yeoman has black-and-white and color imagery that keeps the stories rolling along.

When the magazine closes, it is easy to feel some sadness, especially for those of us who have felt the loss of jobs and the community we are used to in a world of print publications.

“The French Dispatch” premiered in Competition at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. It was featured as an opening night film at the Austin Film Festival. The film is in theaters on Friday, October 22.

Source: Searchlight Pictures

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