The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun (2021)

Quick Reviews/Definitely Rewatch

Written & Directed by Wes Anderson

Story by Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness, & Jason Schwartzman

Starring Benicio Del Toro, Frances McDormand, Jeffrey Wright, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, Léa Seydoux, Owen Wilson, Mathieu Amalric, Lyna Khoudri, Stephen Park, & Bill Murray

With Liev Schreiber, Elizabeth Moss, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Lois Smith, Saoirse Ronan, Christoph Waltz, Cécile de France, Guillaume Gallienne, Tony Revolori, Jason Schwartzman, Rupert Friend, Henry Winkler, Bob Balaban, Hippolyte Girardot, & Anjelica Huston

Release Date: October 22, 2021

Running Time: 1hr 48min

Rating: R

A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional twentieth century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in The French Dispatch Magazine, run by Arthur Howitzer Jr. (Murray). Each story is written by a different staff member of the paper.

The Cycling Reporter – by Herbsaint Sazerac (Wilson): He delivers a cycling tour of the town of Ennui, demonstrating several key areas such as the arcade, Le Sans Blague café and a pick-pocket’s alleyway. He compares the past and the present of each place, demonstrating how much has changed and yet how little has changed in Ennui over time.

The Concrete Masterpiece – by J.K.L. Berensen (Swinton): Moses Rosenthaler (Del Toro), a mentally disturbed artist serving a prison sentence for murder, paints an abstract nude portrait of Simone (Seydoux), a prison officer with whom he develops a burgeoning relationship. Julien Cadazio (Brody), an art dealer also serving a sentence for tax evasion, is immediately taken by the painting after seeing it in a prisoner art exhibition, and buys it despite Rosenthaler’s protests.

Revisions to a Manifesto – by Lucinda Krementz (McDormand): She reports on a student protest breaking out in the streets of Ennui that soon boils over into the “Chessboard Revolution”. Despite her insistence on maintaining “journalistic integrity”, she has a brief romance with Zeffirelli (Chalamet), a self-styled leader of the revolt, and secretly helps him write his manifesto and adds an appendix. Juliette (Khoudri), a fellow revolutionary, is unimpressed with his manifesto.

The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner – by Roebuck Wright (Wright): During a television interview, Wright recounts the story of his attending a private dinner with The Commissaire of the Ennui police force (Amalric), prepared by legendary police officer-slash-chef Lt. Nescaffier (Park). The dinner is disrupted when the Commissaire’s son Gigi is kidnapped and held for ransom by criminals.

Following a delay from 2020, The French Dispatch had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on July 12, 2021, and was theatrically released in the United States by Searchlight Pictures on October 22, 2021. The film received generally positive reviews from critics, with praise for the production design and performances.

I’ve been an avid fan of Wes Anderson since my early teen years (circa 2002), and have seen all of his movies in theaters since Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009). To say I look forward to anything new he brings out would he an understatement. I’ve yet to be disappointed by his films, there’s always something I appreciate (some more than others but still).

This will definitely be getting award nominations in the technical department. Once again, Anderson has crafted a picture with so many wonderful details going on. There’s plenty of impressive choreography going on in various scenes. His longtime cinematographer, Robert Yeoman, makes every frame its own beautiful picture.

I find everyone in the ensemble cast does a solid job; from the major characters in each stories to the minor parts. It’s hard to pick a favorite performance as a result, but I think my pick goes to del Toro; McDormand would be a very close second because she’s always awesome. Like any Anderson film, the humor is often dry and deadpan, but there are moments that will give you a surprise chuckle.

If you’re already a fan of Anderson, then I doubt I have convince you to see it. The only issue I had was that the theater I saw it at cut off certain parts of the picture, sometimes cutting off subtitles. This probably has to do with some of it being filmed in a full screen format. Hopefully this won’t be a problem in most theaters. Far as I know it isn’t currently streaming.

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