Film & TV

Wes Anderson’s The French Dispatch and why there is still space for artistic films in modern cinema.

By Edsard Driessen

Looking at any cinema listing for a new film to watch can usually be incredibly tedious. More often than not it is spent trawling through endless Fast and Furious remakes and other aimless, predictable blockbuster hits known to make money on opening weekend. Nowadays, it seems like films are purely created with profit margins in mind and we rarely, if ever, witness revolutionary and interesting cinema anymore. That is until The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson was announced a little over a year ago. Being known for his meticulously organised camera shots and vivid colour use, Wes Anderson is an absolutely phenomenal filmmaker, having shown his talent in everything from Fantastic Mr Fox to The Grand Budapest Hotel. I was over the moon to finally be excited about going to the cinema again.

Anderson’s The French Dispatch is unlike any film I have seen before – not even like any Wes Anderson films that I have seen before. Indeed, The French Dispatch is the most Wes Anderson film Wes Anderson has ever created. It unapologetically embraces every aspect that makes an Anderson film so special. From the extremely vivid colour scheme to the perfectly contoured and symmetrical camera shots, this is a piece de resistance for any fan of artistic, independent filmmaking. The film follows the goings on and activities of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun, a parody of The New Yorker which Anderson was obsessed with collecting when he was younger. Set in the fictional French town of Ennui-Sur-Blasé, we follow the magazine’s various journalists as they go about collecting stories for its final publication. Being a distinctly poignant ode to French culture, Anderson models most of the stories on famous French events in history. Above all else, what is so distinctly beautiful about this offering is simply how enjoyable it was to watch. The plot was distinctly fast-paced and Anderson presents an action/thriller packaged into a beautiful cinematic experience, keeping us interested through the use of a variety of cinematic forms (live action, animation, split screens, flashbacks, leaps ahead and many others). There was no tedium or lag which one would commonly find in other artistic films on offer and instead the film bursts and leaps with a sense of immediacy. I watched it again the very next day.

Predicting The French Dispatch to fall into the collective annals of other artistic films: enjoyed by a select few and disregarded as irrelevant dribble by most, I was pleasantly surprised to see how successful it was. With the film grossing over $1.3 million on opening weekend, the top opening theatre average of the pandemic era for art house offerings. Given this detail, it makes me hopeful for the future. With depressingly few artistic films being put on offer in the modern market, hopefully this win can encourage a turn away from the usual recycled cinematic offerings we witness so often and lead us back to adventurous and interesting filmmaking.

Categories: Film & TV

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