Wes Anderson’s dream of France and the Paris I remember

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If good food and good wine were everywhere at the end of the 70s, beauty was also overflowing: the large luminous sky on the banks of the Seine, the low bridges with their subtle points of support, the golden domes and the green statuary. -de-gris, the streets that beckon and the boulevards that call, the overflowing markets and the islands pointing their prows towards the river. Paris seemed unreasonably generous.

This French generosity is evoked in “The French Dispatch” with a nostalgic longing for Roebuck Wright (played by Jeffrey Wright and loosely inspired by James Baldwin and AJ Liebling), who appears in the fourth and final of the short episodes that make up the film. He started, as he tells Howitzer, in “the fires and the murders”, but moved on to the intrigues of gastronomy. He launches into an investigation on the table of the chief of the municipal police, whose chief, Mr. Nescaffier (Steve Park), has acquired a certain fame with his hash of pigeon from the municipal park of Blasé, among other delicacies.

Journalism can be lonely, but Wright describes how invariably on a French street he found “a table set for me” with his bottle of wine – “my lonely feast, my comrade”. France has modernized, of course, but it has also resisted the homogenization obsessed with brands from English-speaking countries. The comfort of this table, and the attentive service that is meticulous, remain something accessible throughout France, as distinct as the creamy and mineral perfection of a Gillardeau oyster.

Nescaffier, the chief, is poisoned as the police chief tries to free his kidnapped son. On his convalescence, in a wonderful scene, he delightfully describes the flavor of the toxic salts of radishes – milky, peppery, spicy, not entirely unpleasant. “A new flavor! Something rare at my age! he explains, with corpses scattered around.

May the highly stylized and laughable events of Boredom-on-Blasé be a mocking pastiche of what Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, James Baldwin and countless others have found in the mobile party of France, or the praise of a Francophile director to this tradition, is one of those puzzles with which Anderson likes to play. “I offer the film to France with admiration and respect and a little bit of envy,” he said. Maybe it was a clue.

France clearly has an emotional hold on the director. It was the French epicurean Brillat-Savarin who noted: “I drew the following conclusion, that the limits of pleasure are not yet known or fixed. In food, as in love. When, in the second story of the film, the imprisoned painter Moses Rosenthaler (played by Benicio del Toro) makes love to his prison guard and model, identified only as Simone (Léa Seydoux), he whispers to him “I love you “.


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