"Marred by Excessive Nudity, Political Correctness and Obscenities"
What You Need To Know:
THE FRENCH DISPATCH is meticulously crafted. It’s elaborately designed, with multiple references to French culture and real-life writers and articles. THE FRENCH DISPATCH is funny and sometimes touching in quirky, winsome ways. The fourth story contains some exciting moments. However, THE FRENCH DISPATCH is marred by extreme nudity in one story, a few “f” words and political correctness, including brief homosexual references.
THE FRENCH DISPATCH is a droll, satirical comedy telling four stories about a French town called Ennui-sur-Blasé, from the pages of a magazine edited by an American expatriate, published by a newspaper located in Liberty, Kansas. Meticulously crafted by Writer/Director Wes Anderson, THE FRENCH DISPATCH is funny and sometimes touching in quirky, winsome ways, but the four stories contain extreme nudity in one story, strong foul language, some Marxist political correctness, homosexual references, and other immoral content.
Bill Murray plays Arthur Howitzer, Jr., the elderly American editor of the magazine and provides the connecting link to between the stories. Years ago, Arthur convinced his wealthy newspaper family, which runs the Evening Standard in Liberty, Kansas, to let him go to France and start a special magazine insert for the newspaper. He loves working with the writers, though he sometimes haggles with them over expenses.
Each of the four stories in the movie are narrated by the writer.
The first story stars Owen Wilson as a travel writer who gives a bicycle tour of the town of Ennui-sur-Blasé, including the rats who’ve built a large domicile next to the underground subway. When he finishes his tour, Arthur asks him if he couldn’t make his article a little less seedy, but the writer refuses.
The next story involves a painter named Moses who’s also an inmate in the local insane asylum for murdering two bartenders. After serving 10 years of a 50-year sentence, Moses decides to take up basket weaving before he becomes so bored and depressed that he commits suicide. Moses decides basket weaving is too simple minded for him, so he asks the female guard, Simone, for some paints, canvas, brushes, and turpentine. Simone begins an affair with the scruffy-looking, bearded Moses, who soon convinces her to pose fully nude for him. The resulting abstract painting attracts the attention of an art dealer named Julian, who convinces his two uncles to help him buy the painting for their business. Julian anxiously awaits Moses’ next painting, but he’s in for the surprise of his life.
The magazine’s middle-aged social writer, Lucinda, narrates the third story. Lucinda begins covering a student protest movement at the local college. Led by an emaciated young man named Zeffirelli living with his parents, the students want coed dorms so that the males can be with the females. Lucinda loses her journalist objectivity and starts editing the manifesto Zeffirelli is writing. Soon they are sleeping together, though the boy is also sleeping with one of the female protest leaders, a hard-nosed young woman named Juliette. Eventually, the student protest becomes more political when one of their fellow students returns from war and refuses to go back.
In the fourth story, a black homosexual writer is assigned to attend a fancy dinner prepared by the renowned police cook of the city’s police commissioner. The story becomes an exciting, nail-biting thriller when some thugs kidnap the Commissioner’s young son, Gigi, who has a knack for solving crimes like his father. They threaten to kill Gigi unless the Commissioner releases the local crime syndicate’s accountant, who was recently arrested.
The movie ends with all the magazine’s writers sitting around the offices writing the obituary for Arthur, who suddenly died of a heart attack. It becomes clear they loved the man because of his kindness, encouragement and professional support.
Writer/Director Wes Anderson (ISLE OF DOGS and THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL) dedicates THE FRENCH DISPATCH to about 10 famous writers of yesteryear whose work has appeared in The New Yorker magazine. Anderson says the movie is inspired by his love for the New Yorker, the kind of writers the magazine publishes and his love for French cinema. The movie is set in France, where Anderson has spent most of the last 20 years, but in a fictional city representative of the country.
THE FRENCH DISPATCH is meticulously crafted. As usual with a Wes Anderson movie, the sets and lines of dialogue are elaborately designed and written. There are multiple references to French culture, French movies and real-life writers and articles. Parts of some scenes are shot in black and white, which shifts to color photography at crucial moments.
The movie’s droll humor and satirical comedy won’t appeal to everyone, but the movie has so many comical moments that laughter comes easily. The movie also contains some touching, exciting moments. Anderson gets excellent performances from his cast, but the performances are sometimes designed to come across as a little stilted or unemotional. Anderson seems to prefer more nuanced performances, not highly emotional ones. The best stories are the first and the fourth one, though the second one has some unexpected surprises.
That said, THE FRENCH DISPATCH is marred by strong objectionable content. For example, the story about the painter in the insane asylum contains full frontal nudity when the man starts painting his female guard, who’s totally naked in multiple shots. The movie also has some strong obscenities, including a few “f” words. Finally, THE FRENCH DISPATCH contains some Marxist political correctness, including references to the homosexuality of the black writer, who’s partially patterned after the famous black communist homosexual writer James Baldwin. The black writer in the story isn’t as political as Baldwin, but his character is clearly an homage to the erudite personality that Baldwin often projected. Eliminating the extreme nudity and unnecessary foul language would make THE FRENCH DISPATCH much less objectionable. The movie’s worldview is rather ambiguous and mixed. It seems to lack a moral, religious perspective except in the sequence where the police and some residents act to rescue a kidnapped boy.
Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.
What you listen to, watch, and read has power. Movieguide® wants to give you the resources to empower the good and the beautiful. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support.
You can make a difference with as little as $7. It takes only a moment. If you can, consider supporting our ministry with a monthly gift. Thank you.
Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.
Enjoy articles like this? Sign up for our mailing list to receive the latest news, interviews, and movie reviews for families: