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.