Editor in Chief
Let me be the first to say that, as a rule, I do not often find movies to be very enjoyable. My attention span is miniscule in length, and sitting still for that long drives me insane. All this to say: I loved “The French Dispatch”. It is a beautiful, complex movie that has all sorts of different moving parts that pay homage to one of my favorite things as an English major: the short story.
According to Searchlight Pictures, “THE FRENCH DISPATCH brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city. It stars Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson.”
The movie opens with the death of the editor of The French Dispatch, an American magazine publishing in Ennui, France. It explores the stories contained in the final issue of the magazine, which is set to cease production upon the event of the editor’s death. The movie is divided into three different sections, containing three very different stories. What is most interesting to me, however, was the framing of each story. Each story was told from an outside point-of-view, in a variety of ways: lecture, recitation on a TV show and more.
The movie has no linear plot aside from the editor’s death, choosing instead to take time to truly tell the three stories in a more literary fashion. Because of the limited amount of time given to each unique story, there is less room for characterization of anyone aside from the most important figures in the film. The concept of the film and its execution allow for the lack of characterization, instead drawing the audience into the art itself.
If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson, know that viewers and critics are calling “The French Dispatch” the most Wes Anderson-y film to date. The film combines color with black and white, features animation and cartoons in certain sections, plays with the idea of theatre and film and does so all at once. It is highly dramatic and highly stylized.
Because there are so many different stories to tell, the cast is large and includes some big names in rather small roles.
The French Dispatch was like a love letter to literary magazines and the short story. If you’re going to see the movie, see it on the biggest screen you can find.