Director Wes Anderson's
latest, The French Dispatch, is too much Wes Anderson. It's so much Wes
Anderson whimsy crunched into one movie that it is ultimately exhausting.
The film is a collection
of short stories published by "The French Dispatch," an American
newspaper that has an outpost in a fictional 20th century French city. The
fictitious paper mirrors the real life The New Yorker, which is
Anderson's inspiration for this movie.
The wraparound story
involves the death of the paper's hard-boiled editor, Arthur Howitzer, Jr. (Bill
Murray), and the stories that his writers presented to him. We get three
stories here, and the first, about an incarcerated artist (Benicio Del Toro)
and his muse (Léa Seydoux), is by far the best. In fact, an entire Wes Anderson
comedy could have been made from this short story alone.
The second, about an
older journalist (Frances McDormand) having a love affair with a young
revolutionary (Timothée Chalamet), and the third, concerning a kidnapping, are
just so-so. There is lots of quirkiness
here, but at a certain point it becomes repetitive because the stories get less
and less interesting.
In the third and last
story, Jeffrey Wright plays a reporter covering a kidnapping, and at one point
there is a car chase. This chase sequence is presented in hand-drawn animation.
To me, and because at that point I was whimsy-ed out, it felt like Anderson ran
out of either time or money to film the chase in live action rather than it
being an artistic choice.
Still, this is pure Wes Anderson, and die-hard fans should enjoy it.