Wes Anderson’s ‘French Dispatch’: A Masterpiece

A powerhouse cast under a powerhouse director producing a film full of powerhouse stories

Wes Anderson has blessed us with a new movie this year, originally scheduled for 2020 release but then pushed because of the pandemic. “The French Dispatch” brings a new flavor of film to Anderson’s works, with more of an anthological setup than a typical strict plotline. The film is about an American magazine, The French Dispatch, that is set in a fictional town in France, and covers their final issue after the editor of the magazine passes away. After the film’s introduction, the audience is whisked into the individual stories of the final issue, from a fictional story of an amazing painter guilty of homicide, to takes on a young generation’s revolution, the story of a food critic accidentally involved with a kidnapping, and more. 

The first scenes of the film, with Anjelica Huston as the narrator
Bill Murray plays the editor of the ‘French Dispatch’








Anderson picks from his usual array of favorite and trusted actors for the film to produce probably one of his largest casts to date, with Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Benicio del Toro, Willem Dafoe, Elizabeth Moss, Saoirse Ronan, and even featuring the beloved Timothée Chalamet. He also takes advantage of the anthology format in true Wes Anderson fashion, utilizing contrasts between black and white to color shots, to switches in aspect ratios, and even involving 2D animation for more playful scenes that give a more distinct magazine feel. 

Saoirse Ronan in “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner” story

Anderson’s favorite composer, Alexandre Desplat, returns to his latest film, and brings upon an even more cohesive sense of the magazine and its stories with each note. Saoirse Ronan lends her singing voice to the film as well, playing a scene where she acts as Junkie/Showgirl #1, and sings a French song beautifully to the kidnapped boy in “The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner”, one of my personal favorite stories from the film. (Also shouting out “The Concrete Masterpiece” as my other favorite, a beautiful story of a criminally insane artist in jail for homicide with Benicio del Toro and Léa Seydoux <3.)

Benicio del Toro and Léa Seydoux in “The Concrete Masterpiece” story

This is a film that I’m going to own as soon as I find a solid DVD copy when it releases in December, and a film that I recommend everyone to go see if you’re looking for a fun and engaging movie with genius artistic complexities within it. I’ll also be dreaming of Le Sans Blague, which translates to “no kidding” in French, and is the café featured in the “Revisions to a Manifesto” story starring Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, and Lyna Khoudri. There were pop-ups last month in both New York and LA of real-life versions of the café, where visitors could get free mugs, an issue of the magazine, and tote bags, and I’ll be eternally upset that I wasn’t able to visit. 🙁