On “The French Dispatch”, Wes Anderson unpacks his toolbox

audrey
2 min readNov 24, 2022
“The French Dispatch”, Searchlight Pictures

No matter how ugly and violent and drab the world may be, Ican always count on the pleasingly structured beauty of a Wes Anderson film. Wes Anderson films are a peephole into a living dollhouse. They are a painting on the wall inside a living dollhouse. They are a music box, tiny shiny parts moving like clockwork. Pastel colors and symmetrical frames and every now and then a lewd little joke reminding you that this is, in fact, an R-rated film. Anderson is, arguably, one of the most recognizable auteurs in modern cinema.

But to reduce a Wes Anderson film to merely its aesthetic would be a disservice. Just as signature as his precise camera work and direction are his characters — his aching, yearning, deeply lonely characters. The dollhouse’s inhabitants do have a soul after all — as well as a quirky, almost absurd, and crystal-sharp sense of humor.

“The French Dispatch”, Searchlight Pictures

Anderson certainly isn’t my favorite filmmaker (and if I’m honest I prefer his earlier less austere, more character-driven work, such as “The Royal Tenenbaums” and even “Fantastic Mr. Fox”), but to watch his frames moving from one to the next is a delightful experience of modern cinema itself.

Going into this film, I had a hazy expectation of what I was about to experience, drawing from previous Wes Anderson outings — beyond the precise aesthetics, the quirky humor, the same undercurrent of melancholy. And yet this film took me by the hand and brought me entirely different places than what I would’ve expected, whether or not I enjoyed the entire journey. Indubitably, Wes Anderson has surprised me again. Unbelievably, he has more than a few hidden tricks up his sleeve.

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