While most auteurs have their own cinematic styles – in terms of compositions, palettes, tones, moods, formal devices, etc. – that serve as distinctive signatures, few are as unmistakably identifiable as Wes Anderson’s quintessential visual aesthetic and mise-en-scène. And his manic obsessive brio – characterized by, as a reviewer so aptly mused, paradoxical co-existence of “extreme orderliness of… compositions” with “equally outsized flexibility in structure” – were on full display in his maximalist work, The French Dispatch. Riotously vibrant, chaotic, quirky, irreverent and funny – and packed with eccentric characters, pop-art bursts and farcical tableaux – while rigorously contained within fastidiously designed and punctiliously delineated schemas, this was a loving homage to journalism in general and The New Yorker in particular. The anthology film’s title referred to the French foreign bureau of a fictitious newspaper – edited by its neurotic founder (Bill Murray) – and dramatized certain articles republished in its farewell edition. A hilarious prologue, by its travel writer (Own Wilson), painted idiosyncratic vignettes of the French town it’s based out of. The brilliant first chapter, chronicled by its arts and culture columnist (Tilda Swinton), featured an incarcerated abstract painter (Benicio Del Toro), his stunning muse (Léa Seydoux), and a slimy impresario (Adrien Brody). The impudent second chapter comprised of a love triangle between the paper’s middle-aged political columnist (Frances McDormand), a naïve student leader (Timothée Chalamet) and a feminist revolutionary, on the backdrop of an anti-establishment protest movement. And the tad doltish third chapter from the paper’s food section, covered a police commissioner (Mathieu Amalric), his personal chef, and anarchic criminals (Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe). The paper’s amusing office building, interestingly, was a straight reference to Monsieur Hulot’s delightful residence in Tati’s unforgettable Mon Oncle.
Director: Wes Anderson
Genre: Comedy/Social Satire/Romance