“The French Dispatch” Review

-Allison McCulloch

The quirkiness that drew me to Wes Anderson’s filmmaking has grown awfully stale. When Chantal Goya’s “Tu as trop menti” was featured in the film, the same song used for Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin féminin trailer, I felt that it was kind of uninspired (despite the fact that it’s a great song). Some of the dialogue and jokes fall flat as well. 

I cringed when the film was set in Ennui-sur-Blasé (boredom/apathy). What in the world? Later on, Le Sans Blague (without a joke) Café is also featured as a location. Pretty horrible names. It was filmed in Angoulême and perhaps I’d like to go there someday despite not being enamored with the film.

The saving grace was Wes Anderson’s great cast:

-Owen Wilson dons a beret
-Tilda Swinton’s deadpan delivery with a northeastern accent and bright red Carol Burnett hair is classic.
-Benicio Del Toro plays Moses Rosenthaler, the tortured and psychotic artist.
-Léa Seydoux is a great model, but so much more.
-Christoph Waltz “looks like hell” and it’s too bad he’s not in it more.
-Not even double Academy Award winner Frances McDormand can pick up the pieces.
-Timothée Chalamet plays chess (not as well as Anya Taylor-Joy), but he does wear a gas mask.
-When Juliette (Lyna Khoudri) proclaims that something is “poetic (in a bad way)”, perhaps that could describe the movie at hand, but perhaps that is also being too kind.

I didn’t feel that the subtitles appearing in reverse order did anything.

The AMC Theatre where I saw the film had a black spot on the screen which was mainly unnoticeable but very annoying when it was. It reminded me of when I saw Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums at the Regal Hollywood 27 in Nashville and one of the speakers was blown out, which was okay, because the distortion only enhanced the soundtrack. In this case, the blot on the screen could have represented this blot on Wes Anderson’s career. 

This screened at Cannes? Are you kidding me? It reminded me of Sofia Coppola’s film Somewhere. I felt like someone was playing a practical joke on me by calling it a film and at one point I felt the same way about this one too. At 52 years of age, Wes Anderson proves that “touchy narcissism” isn’t limited to the young at all. It felt like he wrote the whole thing in just seven days and had no idea what to do so just threw everything at the wall. In addition to the screenplay by Anderson, “story by” credits go to: Wes Anderson, Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness, and Jason Schwartzman. Anderson is already shooting his next feature in Spain, currently titled Asteroid City and I hope that one is better.

Rating: 3/10

Vegan alert:
-Person begs for stuffed turkey
-Butcher’s Arcade (past) shows dead animals
-Powdered eggs
-Pigeon’s blood
-Chicken Coop #1
-Dead animals in Gigi (Winsen Ait Hellal) and The Commissaire’s (Mathieu Amalric) food

Follow Allison McCulloch on Twitter.

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