Movie review: The French Dispatch
The French Dispatch is writer-director Wes Anderson's ode to old-school journalism, modelled after his beloved The New Yorker magazine.
The enormous cast is a reflection of the size of a newsroom and reads like a magazine's contributor page.
There's Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Elisabeth Moss, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Benicio del Toro, Lea Seydoux, Adrien Brody, Frances McDormand, Timothee Chalamet, Christoph Waltz, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Liev Schreiber, among many others.
Set in the fictitious French city of Ennui-sur-Blase, the film - which opens in cinemas here tomorrow - is a narrative of various magazine sections, starting with a short introduction of how editor-in-chief Arthur Howitzer Jr (Murray) started the magazine and how it became a literary sensation with a 50-year history.
As you flip the pages, you get a brief travelogue from writer Herbsaint Sazerac (Wilson) as he takes you on a bicycle tour around the gritty town of Ennui.
Then it's the first of three lengthy feature stories titled The Concrete Masterpiece by art correspondent J.K.L. Berensen (Swinton). It's an intriguing tale of a genius artist and convicted murderer (del Toro) and his nude model/muse (Seydoux), who is also his prison guard.
Revisions To A Manifesto by celebrated writer Lucinda Krementz (McDormand) follows a student protest and her affair with one of its leaders (Chalamet).
The third is food writer Roebuck Wright's (Wright) The Private Dining Room Of The Police Commissioner, a profile of prison fine-dining chef Nescaffier (Stephen Park), who becomes a key player in foiling the kidnapping of a police commissioner's (Amalric) son.
The French Dispatch is classic Anderson: quirky, imaginative and aesthetically exquisite. Alexandre Desplat's playful score is also a home run.
The runtime at 108 minutes is not long, but it does feel like you are watching a marathon.
The first feature sets a good pace, with the middle being the weakest link. Then you get to the exciting finale where Anderson rewards you with a delightful animated car chase that feels like you are reading a Tintin comic.
Anderson noobs may find The French Dispatch hard to follow, while fans will appreciate its symmetry and his attention to detail.
MOVIE: The French Dispatch
STARRING: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Benicio del Toro, Frances McDormand, Timothee Chalamet
WRITER-DIRECTOR: Wes Anderson
THE SKINNY: Staff at American magazine The French Dispatch put the final touches on the last issue that features an incarcerated artist, student revolutionaries, prison fine-dining, a travelogue and an obituary.