Linda Cook review: “French Dispatch” will appeal to Wes Anderson devotees


Never has a Wes Anderson movie been so, well, Wes Anderson-y.

“The French Dispatch” will not disappoint Anderson fans. Journalists and readers of “The New Yorker Magazine” will find Anderson’s latest article – if not the biggest, a treat. It is full of weird and funny characters and exquisite, highly detailed settings that viewers embrace in its films.

The film is actually an anthology of four stories – magazine articles, in fact – from a literary magazine called, of course, “The French Dispatch”.

Bill Murray is charming as an editor, who has the motto “No Crying” on his office door. He tells his writers to “try to make it look like you wrote it that way on purpose.”

The set is a sort of “best of” from previous Anderson films. Other stars include Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton. Welcome additions include Jeffrey Wright and Timothée Chalamet.

Swinton is wonderful as a speaker who tells the story of a murderer (Benicio del Toro) who finds his muse in a correctional officer (Léa Seydoux) posing nude for his paintings. Adrien Brody plays an art dealer who incites his partners (Henry Winkler and Bob Balaban) to say that the murderer is a genius.

There is an absolutely wacky story that involves food and a kidnapping.

Anyone who loves Anderson – yes, I’m part of his fan club – talks about the details of his sets. It is perhaps his most detailed film to date, from the walls of books to the streets of a city and the exquisite scenes involved in the kidnapping. It’s impossible to catch all the details the first time around, which can be one of the reasons Anderson fans typically watch his films more than once.

This seasoned journalist loved to see typewriters, wooden desks in a newsroom where pencils are part of the environment.

“The French Dispatch” is not for everyone. It’s for an audience that loves “The New Yorker”, bizarre characters and situations, French New Wave cinema and a love for journalism. And James Thurber and EB White.

It’s a small demographic, but it’s the one that will greet this movie with a “Yes!

3 stars

Rated: R for foul language, violence and nudity.

Duration: one hour and 47 minutes.

In Cinemark, Davenport.

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