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Review: The French Dispatch

Phenomenal experience from start to finish

By Anamaria Popovska

On October 22, 2021, Wes Anderson's long-awaited French Dispatch arrived in U.S. theaters. I had the opportunity to pre-screen the film on October 19, and it was a phenomenal experience.

My French Dispatch journey began when I hopped off the T and walked towards the AMC Boston Common 19. After buying my required movie theater slushie and popcorn, I walked towards the theater and was awaited by a table of French Dispatch merchandise.

A tote bag, pack of pins, pencil case with custom French Dispatch pencils, and more were given to all those who attended the early screening of the film. After finding a seat at precisely 7 p.m., the movie began.

The film has that Wes Anderson-flare from the start. The unique and fun stories are presented through black and white film and are replaced by colorful vibrancy during certain scenes.

The film begins with an overview of the journalists who write for "The French Dispatch." They all gather around the head editor of the magazine company, played by Bill Murry, and are going through the stories too long to be published.

In the first story, Benecio del Toro and Léa Seydoux play prisoners. Toro is an inmate named Moses Rosenthaler, who became a talented artist in prison. He paints one of the guards, Simone, whom Seydoux plays. Moses is tasked to create a sizable multiple-sectioned portrait of Simone. This story within the film was unique because it had a typical Anderson comedic plot but was really simple without too many cryptic meanings.

The second story follows college student Zeffirelli, played by Timothée Chalamet, a student activist working towards creating a utopian society with other students. He writes a manifesto with the help of an older journalist played by Francis McDormand. The second story centers around the student activists, and it ends with Zeffirelli falling in love with Juliette, played by Lyna Khoudri. The ending is a bit shocking and emotional for Zeffirelli fans, but you will just have to watch and find out what I mean.

Zeffirelli's tale was my favorite story in the film. Not just because of my love for Timothee Chalamet's acting, but because of the plot. There were a ton of random additions that made the story hilariously ridiculous. At one point, Zeffirelli was interrupted while reading a newspaper in a bathtub, and there was even a chess match through a barricade.

The film's last story was about two talk show hosts who describe the kidnapping of the son of a police chief, played by Mathieu Almaric. Anderson uses cartoons to portray this story, switching back and forth from the comic, color, and black and white.

The final vignette of the film is back in the office. The head editor has died, and the others mourn his death while also discussing the stories.

This movie was emotional, to say the least. One moment I was laughing, the next sad, and then the next, somewhat confused. Like any Wes Anderson film, The French Dispatch requires a few watches to understand all of the movie's intricacies. So, I will definitely be watching the film again because I want to fully understand the plot and mainly because I obviously want to see Timothée again.

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