The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun
starring Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Jeffrey Wright
screenplay by Wes Anderson
directed by Wes Anderson
by Walter Chaw Out of three sections, not including a framing story, there is one that gets what it's after with the soul of wit and a tug of the heart along the way. It's the middle section, the one concerning a brilliant modern artist incarcerated in a French prison for dismembering two bartenders who falls in love with one of his jailers. He is Moses Rosenthaler (Benicio Del Toro) and his eternal Beatrice, his jack-booted muse, is Simone (Léa Seydoux), and the pas de deux they perform together encapsulates a range of lovely nuance that crystallizes what it is that Wes Anderson does very well, if only occasionally these days, in brief flashes glimpsed between the metric ton of artifice and affectation. For many, the chantilly is the point of Anderson--those gaudy elements that make him one of the most satirized filmmakers of his generation. For me, and up through The Darjeeling Limited, what I liked best about Wes Anderson was his sometimes shockingly effective grappling with absent fathers and broken families. His twee quirk used to be a delivery system for emotional squalls. Now, if those crescendos are there, they're gasping for air.