TWes Anderson’s films, with their intricate detail and fanatically meticulous design, almost invariably reward a second viewing. This is certainly the case with his last, The French dispatch, a gaudy star coat rack photo that takes as its starting point the latest issue of an additional magazine for the fictional newspaper Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun. But given that on a first viewing I found this to be one of the most impactful movies I’ve ever seen, the initial bar was lower than with some of Anderson’s other footage. .
The problem with the structure of the anthology – the film is made up of three separate stories, each based on a feature article by one of the magazine’s star writers, plus a brief travelogue that delves into the unsanitary nooks and crannies of the town of Ennui-sur -BlasÃ© – is that it is almost inevitably unequal. And as engaging as the film’s final story is – by far the most satisfying; a food review turned into a heist thriller narrated by and starring Jeffrey Wright in his sweetest, most charming form – patience will be tested by the segment that precedes it.
This is a student protest story, starring Frances McDormand as ace reporter Lucinda Krementz and TimothÃ©e Chalamet as Zeffirelli, the wild-haired student leader, playing chess and sucking Gauloise. . That says something about Anderson’s hermetically sealed privilege that he can take something as essential as dissent and render it in a palette of tones of cute pastels and adorable kitsch, while carefully avoiding any suspicion. of politics. Elsewhere, however, there is more to admire.
The first section, a portrait of an insane criminal artist (Benicio del Toro), is sneaky fun, not least because it’s narrated by Tilda Swinton as art correspondent JKL Berensen, a fabulously glamorous creature with deer teeth. , a tangerine evening dress and the tantalizing clue of a scandalous past. The travelogue – a bike journey to the dark side with Owen Wilson, which features pickpockets, floating corpses, and gangs of renegade choirboys – has a toned savagery that is at odds with the intentionally charming aesthetic of the movie. And Anderson’s backdrop, a sort of steroid-augmented Frenchness reminiscent of movies like Belleville Rendezvous and Amelie, is rather charming, although ultimately as far removed from reality as the film’s fictionalized take on journalism is.