Movie Review: The French Dispatch (2021)

In select theatres.

The latest lark by a gifted director is modern artifice without much of a meaning. Wes Anderson’s wry and literate anthology The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun (C) contains within its whimsical sampler a bunch of half-baked ideas beautifully rendered. The director continues his tradition of focusing on madcap minutiae and summons a game and familiar journeyman cast to mostly pose in oddball characterizations without actually being characters. Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and others make the most of their brief moments but are criminally underused in serving Anderson’s vague vision. All vignettes are very loosely connected via the framing device of a literary news magazine. The story of a “tortured artist” featuring Benicio del Toro is by far the strongest entry; a take on “journalistic neutrality” less so; and a meandering morsel on “delicious irony” fails to satisfy. There’s a lot on display but not much to see here.

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