Whenever I watch a film by Wes Anderson I ask myself several questions. Who is the antagonist? Who is the one with the ego? Who benefits from the inevitable conflict? Somehow, in Anderson’s films the answers to these questions always seem to come together in the most eccentric and artistic fashion. His newest film, The French Dispatch, is no exception.
The French Dispatch is set in twentieth century France and it follows several stories revolving around a newspaper of that name. It tracks the health issues of Arthur Howlitzer Jr., the editor of the newspaper, played by Bill Murray. There is a story about a cycler named Herbsaint Sazerac, played by Owen Wilson. Another story focuses on Moses Rosenthaler, played by Benicio Del Toro, who is an artist in prison. Rosenthaler is trying to work out a deal for one of his paintings with art dealer Julien Cadazio, played by Adrien Brody. Rosenthaler also has a secret relationship with prison guard Simone, played by Lea Seydoux. And there is a story about a student protest involving a woman named Lucinda Krementz, played by Frances McDormand, and student Zeffirelli, played by Timothee Chalamet.
These stories at first don’t seem related, but they somehow coalesce. The placement of the various characters creates strange illusions, but Anderson always helps his audience put together the pieces of where his eccentric world is going. He also gives us hints before his films are even released, via the trailers and advertisements. The worlds Anderson creates are ones of glamour, the wealthy, and criminals.
Anderson’s character development is unparalleled. He is brilliant, an auteur director of the highest order, and he digs deeper and brings more emotion than usual in The French Dispatch. It is a true masterpiece. I give The French Dispatch four stars.