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The French Dispatch

The subject of Wes Anderson’s latest film is the French Dispatch, a supplement to the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun written by correspondents from a small town in France. The purpose of the supplement was to bring the world of a small French town to the midwestern readers. The film brings to life 3 stories republished in this last issue of the Dispatch – one from Arts and Leisure, one from Politics, and one from Dining (those may not be the exact titles). My favorite is the first story, The Concrete Artist, as it works the best at telling the story of a convicted murderer-turned commercially successful artist while presenting a deeper cultural critique of art and what it is and means. But each story speaks to some aspect of journalism – bringing various (and perhaps unknown) aspects of life to readers, searching for a deeper meaning, and objectivity in reporting (the second story featuring Timothee Chamelet as a young and naïve revolutionary who is leading a strike for men’s access to the women’s dormitory building and Frances McDormand as the reporter who sleeps with him).  The directing, score, and cinematography are first-rate; the dialog is generally quick, as in most of Anderson’s films, and scenes are meticulously crafted. Most importantly, it is just pure fun and many times very funny in a very Wes Anderson sort of way. As you watch each story, the parade of well-known faces grows, and you can imagine that all the big names in Hollywood must have been lining up to play in this film. I am a fan of Wes Anderson, and I found this film to be one of his most interesting, even if the second two stories weren’t as on-target as the first. (2021; 4 Stars).

About Gary Burkholder

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