I had never been to a morning movie before. However, I had a double feature planned and it needed to be done. As such, there I was seeing Wes Anderson’s new film The French Dispatch at 10:30 in the morning. If every film could be as good as this one, I’d be looking to start my day with a movie more often. Truly it gets your day off on a wonderful note (until you then go see a movie you like a bit less, at least).
I love Wes Anderson. He’s possibly my favorite filmmaker. I also absolutely loved The French Dispatch. It’s the best movie I’ve seen since 2019. The film, which is a series of stories taken from the pages of a fictional French wing of a Kansas newspaper, is funny, beautiful, meticulous, gripping, and just fantastic. I know it won’t win Best Picture. It probably won’t even get a nomination. Based on the movie, though, I don’t think Anderson necessarily cares.
I’m not merely here to talk about The French Dispatch and how much I loved it. I’m not here to rank the performances in the movie, though Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, and Jeffrey Wright are all in a battle for the top spot. What really struck me as I was watching the movie, though, was how Wes Anderson it was. It was so striking, and it’s part of why I loved it so much I believe.
Anderson can be divisive. Some people think he’s too meticulous, the naysayers would probably say “precious,” and the word “twee” gets thrown around occasionally. Although, I don’t know how many “twee” directors use as much vulgarity and full-frontal nudity. I recognize he is a specific filmmaker, and I am on his wavelength. I also appreciate the fact he seems to really just be happy doing his own thing.
The French Dispatch is so fully Wes Anderson it feels almost combative. It’s like he said, “Oh you don’t like my quirks and trademarks? What if I took them all to a whole new level?” The movie is just packed with Anderson touches. He could have gone the other way. He could have tried to be more palatable, more universal. You know, make some more cash in the box office, maybe get another Oscar nomination. Instead, The French Dispatch doubles down. Anderson is fully committed to doing his thing, and I love that.
Of course, I also love Anderson’s thing, which is why The French Dispatch was up my alley. It won’t click with other people. He basically wanted to make a movie out of The New Yorker, and it feels like he did it. That’s not going to bring in new audiences. It’s not going to win over his detractors. Clearly, Anderson could not care in the slightest. There’s something admirable in that.