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  • Writer's pictureHingman Leung

Film Review: The French Dispatch

It's hard for me to say this, but as I walked out of the theatre after catching Wes Anderson's latest film, I was not moved. It was surprising to me, as a fan of his work.

Sure, it has Anderson's signature quirky characters, impeccable sets and costumes, A-list actors, complicated father figures, camera zooms and whip pans, and a certain sense of ironic ennui; but when you strip those away, does it live up to its hype?

The story itself and the script is beautiful, but throughout the film, I was constantly taken out of the story by the self-congratulatory tone that's become a bit too on the nose for me. It's like the scene from The Royal Tenenbaums when Margot premiered her play but magnified, edging towards pantomime. Now that I write this out, perhaps that was indeed the intention, as a repeated line from The French Dispatch comes to mind: "just make it sound like you wrote it that way on purpose."

My favourite part of the film was the third story, featuring Jeffrey Wright as its protagonist. The script is beautiful, and exemplifies the beauty of storytelling. I especially loved how well this portion evoked the feeling of being hooked into a really really good travelogue in a magazine.

I'm torn, because I'll always be a Wes Anderson fan, but his recent films haven't been able to draw me in as deeply as The Royal Tenenbaums which has remained, to date, my all time favourite film. As I progress in my own filmmaking journey, I wonder if I am growing out of his style because of the exploration I've been doing on "the male gaze" and representation in media. And part of me is also thinking, it must be nice to be a White man in Hollywood.

TL;DR Liked it, there were some poignant parts, beautiful as always, but missing connection


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