The French Dispatch Movie Explained: What’s Up With the Ending?

“The French Dispatch” (full movie title The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun) – Wes Anderson’s long-awaited movie, in which the famous director created another aesthetic masterpiece. He brought printed texts to life by turning famous actors into narrative journalists.

The French Dispatch movie meaning

Genre comedy-drama
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring Adrien Brody (Julien Cadazio), Tilda Swinton (J.K.L. Berensen), Benicia Berensen (J.K.L. Berensen). Berensen), Benicio Del Toro (Moses Rosenthaler), Léa Seydoux (Simone), Timothee Chalamet (Zeffirelli), Frances McDormand (Lucinda Krementz), Bill Murray (Arthur Hovitzer Jr.), Owen Wilson (Erbsen Sazera), Elisabeth Moss (Ayumna), Willem Defoe (Albert Abacus), Christoph Waltz (Paul Duvall), Edward Norton (The Kidnapper), and Sirsha Ronan (The Outlaw), among others.
American Empirical Pictures, Indian Paintbrush, Studio Babelsberg.
Year of release 2021
IMDb website

The movie takes place in the fictional French town of Ennui-sur-Blaz. There is a busy editorial staff working on a weekly magazine called The French Dispatch (a supplement to the American newspaper Liberty, the Kansas Evening Sun). Editor-in-chief Arthur Hovitzer, Jr. (played by Bill Murray) collects articles written by regular contributors – people who are rambunctious and unorthodox, but extremely dedicated to their profession. They tell the prison story of an abstractionist painter, initiate readers into the details of a student revolution, and describe a daring kidnapping that takes place in the family of a gourmet food connoisseur.

In fact, Wes Anderson creates his own print edition and transforms it into a feature-length film, leaving the elements of elegant layout in the frame: captions, headlines and even clarifications appear on the screen – everything looks as if the visitors of the movie theater are leafing through a magazine, which turned out to be displayed on the big screen.

The format of the image is constantly changing, as is the film on which the director shoots. First we see the colorful nuances of the town and its inhabitants, then we move on to the pastel details of the editorial office, elegantly cluttered with books, typewriters and cover designs (literally every frame you want to pause to consider hundreds more objects, masterfully arranged in the corners). Afterwards, we delve into the articles presented in black-and-white scenes, with occasional episodes of color (such as an extravagant portrait of a prison guard that becomes a sensation in the art world).


Wes Anderson was inspired to create the movie by the American weekly The New Yorker – the director became interested in the magazine in his school years, at that time he was already paying attention to the names of journalists who regularly published in the publication. That’s why the characters of The French Herald copy the personalities of The New Yorker’s famous authors who wrote about politics, society and culture. For example, Owen Wilson’s character in real life did make curious notes about city life, and Frances McDormand’s character is a famous writer who detailed the Paris protests in 1968.

When it comes to the cast, it seems that Wes Anderson has outdone himself this time around. In addition to the above actors, he continued to work with Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton, Lea Seydoux and Willem Defoe. He also invited Benicio Del Toro, Timothee Chalamet and Elisabeth Moss to the set for the first time. Not all the actors stay in the frame for a long time, some (like Christoph Waltz and Saoirse Ronan) appear on the screen only for a few moments, but it is enough to fill the pages of the movie story.


Visually, “The French Herald” is simply gorgeous. Literally every frame in the movie is staged with a special wit, supported by the camera movement, placing funny accents. From an adaptation of printed stories, the picture jumps to a public lecture and moves to a talk show, and then transforms into an animation with an intense chase. Without any doubt, before us is a real aesthetic pleasure, which lasts just under two hours.

The only downside of the tape is that its story sags noticeably on the background of visual ingenuity. This is definitely not Wes Anderson’s best script – the movie lacks the gusto that characterized the director’s previous works (The Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom are hard to beat).

But for Wes Anderson fans, going to the movies to see The French Messenger is a whole event that should not be canceled because of minor flaws. The picture is worth seeing on the big theater screen, where you can catch the gorgeous details of the production, complete with a soundtrack composed by Alexandre Desplat (the movie also features the song “Aline” performed by Jarvis Cocker – Anderson directed a music video especially for it, which has already been posted on YouTube).


Wonderful visual humor; cast; elements of fine magazine layout; transition from color film to black-and-white; animation; soundtrack

Form trumps content


“The French Herald” is probably not Wes Anderson’s best script, but visually the movie is gorgeous.

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