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The French Dispatch | 2021 | R | – 6.5.5

content-ratingsWhy is “The French Dispatch” rated R? The MPAA rating has been assigned for “graphic nudity, some sexual references and language.” The Kids-In-Mind.com evaluation includes full female nudity and partial male nudity, references to a sexual relationship between a young man and an older woman, the off-screen murder of two men with a little blood, a kidnapping, a suicide by jumping from a window, torture and beatings, an accidental death by electrocution, and 4 F-words and other strong language. Read our parents’ guide below for details on sexual content, violence & strong language.


Episodic movie set in the offices of “The French Dispatch Magazine,” an American publication in a 20th-century fictional French city. Several stories published in the magazine are explored in this tribute to journalism. Also with Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Steve Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Bob Balaban, Henry Winkler and Lois Smith. Directed by Wes Anderson. [Running Time: 1:48]

The French Dispatch SEX/NUDITY 6

 – A fully nude woman poses for a painter and we see her bare breasts, abdomen, pubic region and legs and when she steps down off a pedestal we see her bare back and buttocks; the painter paints a spot on her abdomen (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details). A fully nude woman is shown posing in unusual positions and holding props (we see her bare breasts, abdomen, pubic region, buttocks and legs). A nude young man sits in a bathtub while a woman touches up her makeup in the same room and they talk; she stands over him and he says that he is nude, he gets out of the tub to hand her something and we see him fully nude with his hand covering his crotch (we see his bare shoulders, chest, and the side of his buttock). A woman presenting a program about a painter clicks on a slide of a fully nude woman (we see bare breasts, abdomen, pubic region and legs) and says that it is her; she acts embarrassed and quickly moves on to the next slide.
 A shirtless young man and a topless young woman (we see her bare breasts and abdomen and his bare chest and abdomen) sit facing each other on a bed and they kiss (sex is implied). A man and a woman lie next to each other (sex is implied) and we see their bare shoulders and upper chest as they talk and the man professes his love for the woman (she responds that she does not love him). We hear rhythmic sounds that imply a young man and an older woman are having sex and we later see the young man shirtless and sitting in a bed next to the woman, who’s wearing a nightgown (his bare chest and abdomen are seen).
 A woman admits to having a sexual affair with a man. A young woman says, “I’m a virgin” and a young man says, “Me too, except for [a woman’s name].” A man makes a remark about loving, “The wrong way.” A painting is titled, “Simone Naked.”
 A woman wears a dress that reveals cleavage and bare thighs, and stockings with garters. Several women are shown wearing revealing outfits (cleavage and partial legs are seen) and they are referred to as “street walkers.” A man wears weightlifting garb that reveals his bare shoulders, chest and legs to the mid-thighs. Several women’s bras hang in a bathroom.

The French Dispatch VIOLENCE/GORE 5

 – A man is shown seated at a bar and drinking and other men seem to be bullying a man at the other end of the bar until we hear the first man growl (we see a butcher cutting an animal carcass in a room behind him) and we hear what sounds like a beating off-screen (blood splatters); we are told that the man decapitated two of the three men using a butcher’s saw and he later says that they had it coming. A young man sitting on a bunkbed jumps out of a window and others in the room gather around the window talking about how many floors they are off the ground and one repeats that the young man is not moving and is presumably dead. A young man climbs the outside a radio tower and flips a switch that causes an electrical flash and we understand that he is killed; we see his parents in tears and are told that they are on their way to identify his body. A gun is fired through a skylight and we see a man slumped over a table (no blood is shown) as a young boy is knocked out with chloroform and taken away through the skylight by the shooter. Police torture men with beatings, and one man is shown hanging upside down by the feet, one man is dropped out of an airplane, and one man is dragged across a bar top (we hear glasses breaking). Men are surrounded by police and they shoot at each other.
 Many prison inmates break a wall down and fight with people using weapons made of found items; we see the scene as if they are posing for a painting with seemingly no blows landing (no blood is evident). A man chases another man seated in a wheelchair, and the man in the chair throws things at the other man until a woman hits them both with a nightstick (one man has a bloody nose). A man sits in an electric chair and yells for a guard to “throw the switch”; the guard does not do so and another guard enters the room, flips the switch quickly, then turns it off, and the man in the chair jolts briefly and his hair smokes but he seems OK. Rubber bullets and tear gas are fired at protestors (we don’t see injuries). Police open fire on a group of people and we see bodies (without blood) on the floor later. Police shoot at people in a taxi as it speeds away; a man jumps on the hood of the car and is thrown through a window when the car stops (he is shown unharmed later); the occupants of the car get out and run through tunnels before returning to the car and speeding away, and a child in the car climbs out through the sunroof of the car and jumps into the police car following them (he is unharmed).
 A painter paints a spot on a model’s bare abdomen (please see the Sex/Nudity category for more details) and she smacks the paintbrush out of his hand, shoves him away and steps off a pedestal to dress behind a partition and we see her wearing a guard’s uniform as she straps the painter into a straitjacket. A man falls down a flight of stairs on a bicycle (he seems OK). A man is seated in a wheelchair and we hear that he stabbed himself in the leg. A young woman sticks her tongue out at a young man.
 We hear that a man committed a double homicide and is now in prison. We hear that a man is in prison for tax evasion. A man in prison says that he drinks 14 pints of mouthwash every day and that he is likely to poison himself to death before his term is up. A man yells in frustration when a painter asks for another year to complete his next work.
 A body floats in a river and is fished out by a man on the bank with a long hook. We hear that an editor died at 75 from a heart attack and we later see him dead in a coffin and later covered with a sheet on his desk.
 A young boy is shown tied up and in a closet. A man is shown sitting in a chicken coup and we hear that he has been there without food for several days; he asks, “How are you planning to kill me?” A man asks another man, “How crazy are you?” and if he is in physical danger to be around him. We hear that young people led protests for free access to a girls’ dormitory on a college campus. A man fires a young man and tells him, “No crying.” A sign in an editor’s office reads, “No crying.” A sign is translated as, “The children are grumpy,” during a protest. A young man leaves a gathering in a café abruptly and we hear that he had been called to national service duty. A reference is made to a “burst appendix.” A reference is made to “kidnappers were poisoned.” A man says that a lack of cartography skills is the “curse of the homosexual.” We hear a voice saying, “We have kidnapped your son,” and a reference is made to his violent death. A man lies in a hospital bed and talks about having been poisoned. We hear that there is a strike at a morgue. A reference is made to there toxic fumes in a city. We are told that a man used pigeon blood for some of his paintings (materials were hard to get in prison). A character talks about “snot pouring from the nostrils” when being exposed to tear gas and that people cough and their eyes water.
 Many rats are shown packed into a subway tunnel and cats are shown sitting on stone walls. A man fishes out a plate of what looks like small eels from a stream. A man stands at an outdoor urinal (no nudity is seen). A voice-over states that a woman liked the smell of turpentine and we see her dabbing some on her skin. A young man and a woman wear gas masks before leaving an apartment to go to a protest. A young man tears a service patch off his coat and burns it in protest.

The French Dispatch LANGUAGE 5

 – About 4 F-words and its derivatives, 4 sexual references, 3 scatological terms, 3 anatomical terms, 2 mild obscenities, 2 derogatory terms for African-American people, name-calling (convoluted, hobos, junkies, rowdy, lunatic, demented, vulgar, wastrel, jocks, bookworms, ruthless, old maid, indiscreet, deranged, savages, stingy Frenchmen, weird, criminal, mixed up showgirl, girlish little schoolboy, invincible, stupid, invalid, impulsive, rapists and pick-pockets), exclamations (oh no, what’s that, how dare you), 2 religious exclamations (e.g. drunk on the blood of Christ, good God). | profanity glossary |

The French Dispatch SUBSTANCE USE

 – Alcoholic beverages and a pack of cigarettes are gathered on a serving tray and carried to a magazine’s offices, a man says that he drinks 14 pints of mouthwash every day (please see the Violence/Gore category for more details), several young people drink and smoke in a café, and three people drink a shot of a liquor before a meal and wine with the meal. A woman smokes at her desk in a few scenes, a woman smokes in an apartment, a young man smokes in a bathtub, a young man smokes in a bed, and two men smoke cigarettes in a prison cell.

The French Dispatch DISCUSSION TOPICS

 – Secrets, reportage, loneliness, modern art, creativity, symbolism, cruelty, journalistic neutrality, desertion, pirate radio, utopian civilization.

The French Dispatch MESSAGE

 – Journalism is an endeavor that’s not celebrated enough.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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