Rent The French Dispatch (2020)

3.3 of 5 from 167 ratings
1h 48min
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Wes Anderson's 'The French Dispatch' brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in the fictional 20th-century French city of Ennui-sur-Blase. With an all-star cast that includes Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Lea Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothee Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson this vibrant film is a funny, moving celebration of journalism.
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Wes Anderson, Jeremy Dawson, Steven Rales
Narrated By:
Anjelica Huston
Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness, Jason Schwartzman
Milena Canonero, Adam Stockhausen, Rena DeAngelo
Comedy, Drama, Romance
Getting to Know..., Getting to Know: Bill Murray, Getting to Know: Frances McDormand, Getting to Know: Tilda Swinton, The Instant Expert's Guide, The Instant Expert's Guide to Wes Anderson
Release Date:
Not released
Run Time:
108 minutes
Release Date:
Run Time:
108 minutes
English Audio Description Dolby Digital 2.0, English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, French Dolby Digital 5.1
English Hard of Hearing, French, Spanish
Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen 1.85:1
BLU-RAY Regions:
(0) All

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Reviews (4) of The French Dispatch

Very Much a Wes Anderson Film - The French Dispatch review by GI

Spoiler Alert

If you are familiar with the cinematic and quite unique style of director Wes Anderson then you will be forearmed because this is perhaps his most stylised film. If you are not aware of his films then you may need to ready yourself for something very unusual, strange and surreal. Like a live action cartoon, with theatrical overtones and even the feel of old silent comedies this is Anderson's homage to the New Yorker magazine. It's a sharp, satirical comedy with a big cast and it's full of delights, fun, eccentricities and originality. It's an ode to print journalism set in a fictional French town of Ennui where a magazine The French Dispatch is produced. The film is told in sectional short stories that are interlinked around the sections of the magazine. So for example the arts section deals with the story of a convicted and declared insane artist (Benicia Del Toro) who paints his jailer (Léa Seydoux) and is discovered by the art world. There's a story of a student rebellion led by Timothée Chalamet and one of the police chief's son being kidnapped during a celebratory dinner. Overall I found the whole thing to be a bit too much at times but knowing Anderson's films quite well I was sort of prepared. The cast are impeccable and include Tilda Swinton as the art critic, Frances McDormand as the journalist covering the student riot, Jeffrey Wright as the food critic and Bill Murray as the magazine's editor who doesn't allow crying in his office. You'll also spot Henry Winkler, Edward Norton, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan and Willem Dafoe amongst others. The film is off-beat, highly visualised and for the most part it's quite a treat.

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

Pretentious piffle - The French Dispatch review by AB

Spoiler Alert

This is only the second DVD from Cinema Paradiso that I stopped watching half way through. I hate wasting money, but this really is pretentious piffle. I just could not watch any more. The so-called stories are futile farragos of unfunny fatuity. Why so many great actors got pulled into this mess is a complete mystery. You may suspect by now that I do not recommend this film.

2 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

Grand Budapest revisited - The French Dispatch review by PD

Spoiler Alert

Wes Anderson's latest is very much in the same mould of 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' with its flights of imagination, exquisite visual flair and infectious sense of fun, and so if you liked that one you'll certainly enjoy this, although it never quite reaches the same heights. The very funny and darkly satirical first main sequence, 'The Concrete Masterpiece' is easily the best of the 'stories', involving an imprisoned sociopath-turned-artist and his muse, and featuring a wonderful Tilda Swinton who looks every the inch the part as art correspondent JKL Berensen, who narrates the story. The other sections are much less involving, but there's still much to enjoy, notably, in the final section, some gorgeous animated escape sequences in a bandes dessinées style reminiscent of Belgian cartoonist Hergé's The Adventures of Tintin, while also evoking classic New Yorker covers.

Whilst the film may seem like a series of vignettes lacking a central theme, every moment is graced by Anderson’s love for the written word and the oddball characters who dedicate their professional lives to it. There’s a wistful sense of time passing and a lovely ode to the pleasures of travel embedded in the material, along with an appreciation for the history of American foreign correspondents who bring their perceptive outsider gaze to other cultures. The mission of the magazine is summed up thus near the end of the film: “Maybe with good luck we’ll find what eluded us in the places we once called home.”

2 out of 2 members found this review helpful.

Critic review

The French Dispatch review by Mark McPherson - Cinema Paradiso

Wes Anderson’s films always have a sense of meandering to them but The French Dispatch may be his most all-over-the-place movie. It’s an anthology picture that follows a handful of stories from the fictionalized titular magazine. His usual trope of actors returns, as do some bigger names of Timothy Chalamet and Jeffrey Wright. They have their cute moments, cruel moments, and charming moments throughout lavish and retro sets. Complete with French framing and light music touches, it’s a good-looking film with bursts of brilliance here and there.

The framing of the film is that The French Dispatch’s editor (Bill Murray) has died of a heart attack and the staff is called upon to fulfill his final wish of a farewell issue. While an obituary closes out the issue, the other stories proceed into other avenues. The Cycling Reporter is a light and breezy report of Ennui-sur-Blasé on a bike, noting how time has changed the area. Kind of a nothing opener but I guess Owen Wilson has to be placed somewhere in this crowded picture that requires sectioning.

Next comes The Concrete Masterpiece and it’s a decently quirky tale of art, criticism, and incarceration. Moses Rosenthaler (Benicio del Toro) is a prisoner for commits murder and spends his days creating artwork. His art attracts the eyes of an art dealer and tax-evasion prisoner Julien Cadazio (Adrien Brody). With a little encouragement, Julien manages to make Moses a big name in the art world. Despite the appeal for relevancy and fame, the deal goes south and crumbles into a series of fights and arguments. Posed in a non-linear fashion, this segment does a solid job at satirizing the art world, even posing Tilda Swinton as a snobby art presenter who reveals quite a bit of fragility and ignorance in trying to decipher Moses.

Revisions to a Manifesto is the more romantic segment. It features Timothée Chalamet as a student who is fascinated with revolution. He takes a romantic interest in a journalist played by Frances McDormand but is also drawn to another student played by Lyna Khouri. The satire is much drier in this segment for targeting the generational gap of observing and taking part in revolutions while also finding love in the world. It has its quirks but meanders perhaps more than it needs to for Anderson’s usually zippy pacing.

That pacing does pick up, however, in one of the last segments, The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner. Jeffrey Wright plays Roebuck Wright, a food journalist who finds himself fascinated with the police force. Wright channels James Baldwin's energy in how he narrates this story with great intrigue and exuberance. There’s an investigation into missing a prisoner and a kid held hostage, resulting in a darkly comedic stand-off and chase. There’s some poisoning, some shootouts, and a car chase. It is perhaps my favorite segment simply because Wright’s narration is such a treat to listen to as one of the newcomers to the Anderson troupe.

Finally, the obituary of the editor closes out the film. It’s a perfectly anti-climactic moment with a mixture of tears and dry wit about what the magazine meant to the many writers.

All of the visual flair one would expect from Anderson is present once more. I was, however, surprised to see some 2D animation present. During the car chase sequence of many visual gags, Anderson drops out of the black-and-white footage for a colorful animated sequence of amazing detail. It's a suitable choice considering that he usually favors practical effects for such scenes. Though one could easily compare it to the laziness of Cannonball Run, Anderson isn't exactly known for directing car chases so it's refreshing to see him direct such a sequence. It's enough to make one long for Anderson to pursue a 2D animated feature film.

The French Dispatch is far from Anderson’s best film but it’s still a fascinating enough film. I’m always a big fan of anthologies that can explore different types of stories. Anderson doesn’t venture too much out of his comfort zone but he does attempt just enough experiments in such a picture with another towering ensemble cast. Even at his worst, which may be the case with this film, Wes’s style remains firmly eye-catching and charming in this film.

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