Though director Wes Anderson and pretty much everyone involved in his movies find their own unusual paths to follow, they end up in the same place while working together. For The French Dispatch, that puts the diverse bunch into a world where no one cares about tradition. But ironically, the project celebrates tradition—that of the old-school literary magazine, the kind that boasted phenomenal writers and novelistic short stories.
Anderson returns his frequent writing team of Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Hugo Guinness to create a cinematic magazine, one that lays out its design and dispenses what it promises—an obituary, a travelogue, and three short tales. Sticking to the whimsical style of his other works like The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson takes a playful and often nonsensical approach that fights mainstream rules about plot and character development.
We fans expect the unexpected from Anderson, and he delivers The French Dispatch with a mix of intellectual wit and an occasional pratfall. He sets his story in the French-sounding town of Ennui-sur-Blasé, a sanctuary for talented expats too disorganized to fit into the mold required by regular jobs. They produce bizarre stories where animated drawings sometimes step in to show action.
Calling the project quote “a love letter,” the filmmakers never aim for huge dramatic highs or deep meanings. They just want to have fun, joined by an amazing cast that feels the same way. This includes Anderson regulars like Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronin, and as narrator, Angelica Huston. Anyone needing more can find Léa Seydoux posing nude and coming off much more effectively than she did as a hyper Bond girl in No Time to Die. Added to that, Timothée Chalamet does his own nude scene for The French Dispatch, plus displays a broader range of emotion than allowed for his starring role in Dune. Director Anderson’s knack with actors assembles a bouquet of talent, infusing his imaginative world with pleasurable energy.