If anyone makes films that are almost instantly recognisable as his it is Wes Anderson and The French Dispatch is possibly his most Wes Anderson film of all. Inspired by The New Yorker magazine The French Dispatch is edited by Arthur Howitzer Jr (Bill Murray) and his ex-pat writers in living in picturesque Ennui-Sur-Blase bringing French culture to its Kansas audience with the film broken down into separate stories corresponding to sections of the magazine and in that regard we have obituaries, arts, cookery and such like.
Anderson’s films attract big names and The French Dispatch is no different. The first about artist / mass murderer (Benecio Del Toro)and his obsession with a strict female guard (Lea Seydoux) who becomes his muse and his life drawings that soon become the toast of the art world. The second follows Zefferelli (Timothee Chalamet) a chess player and 1960’s youth revolutionary in France whose exploits are recorded by a writer (Francis McDormand) getting a little too close to her subject. And the third is the writer (Jeffrey Wright) recording in a TV interview about a cookery piece that turned into a kidnapping.
The issue with each story is that they are almost interminably dull and the film is more interested in its, albeit meticulously, framing and exquisite production design and is self consciously stylish flitting between colour and black & white and the occasional moment of animation as well as different aspect ratios with most of the shots essentially being filmed tableaux. So many will find the French Dispatch more style over substance . Many of the all star cast have little to do – Elizabeth Moss and Owen Wilson are quickly sidelined and Bill Murray, a regular of Anderson’s films, merely exists on screen with little if any of his deadpan humour. And at an hour and forty five minutes it feels longer and whilst The French Dispatch exhibits all of the directors idiosyncratic style to the max it’s unlikely to attract any new fans. Sunday Sport the Movie is the follow up sequel we’d love to see him do next.
Here’s The French Dispatch trailer…….