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Why ‘The French Dispatch’ is Wes Anderson’s Most Stylish Film To Date

‘The French Dispatch’ is all about having fun with art even when the subject matter is serious. Naturally, the film itself is a stylistic smorgasbord.
The French Dispatch Detail
Searchlight Pictures
By  · Published on February 4th, 2022

Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay that appreciates the visual details of Wes Anderson’s film The French Dispatch.

Even at his most restrained, Wes Anderson can out-style most directors. His wildly formal approach to film is one of his most noticeable and infamous hallmarks as a director. He is never afraid to remind you that you’re watching something constructed, meticulously at that. His films tend to feel like little dollhouse dioramas. Warm, but never intent on duping you into ascending to anything resembling naturalism.

2021’s The French Dispatch is Anderson’s tenth feature film. And it may very well be his most stylish film to date. As the video essay below keenly points out, the level of formal detail borders on absurdism. Scenes toe-tap to a distinct visual rhythm, with extras and passing vehicles hitting the silent beats of an off-camera metronome. Some scenes are filled with unnatural stillness while others break out into hand-held pandemonium. The film even elides into stop-motion and 2D animation at times. So, what’s the purpose of all this unabashed style beyond Anderson having a spot of fun? Is he just throwing all his whimsy at the wall?

If you’ve had the pleasure of seeing the film for yourself, the answer should be clear. The film celebrates Anderson’s beloved publication, The New Yorker, and the diverse journalist-storytellers who filled its pages with memorials, adventures, dedications, and essays. Set in a French town, the film begins with the death of the editor of the film’s fictional titular magazine. Per his last will and testament, The French Dispatch is to suspend its publication after one farewell issue comprised of four stories.

In short, The French Dispatch is a film full of stories about storytellers; a celebration not just of what they wrote but how they wrote it. This is a film deeply in love with the magic of craft and voice, of which it has both in spades.

Watch “The Absurd Intricacy of The French Dispatch”:

Who made this?

This video essay on the level of detail in The French Dispatch by Virginia-based filmmaker and video editor Thomas Flight. He runs a YouTube channel under the same name. You can follow Thomas Flight and check out his back catalog of video essays on YouTube here. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).