The Short! Not Wes Anderson’s best, but his most visually creative film. Anderson is such a solid filmmaker that even his weaker works are ones to still see and enjoy.
The Long! A Wes Anderson flick is one that you know is his immediately. Not many filmmakers have this unique style that when you see it, you know their signature. I look forward to his films because I’m excited to see his art direction, set changes, writing, and in-camera wizardry.
I mentioned in The Short that this is Anderson’s most visually creative film, but not his best overall. Is The French Dispatch a bad film if it’s one of Anderson’s weaker films? Wes Anderson is like Pixar, even at their weakest, they are still presenting high-quality storytelling. Wes Anderson Rushmore! The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore (How could I not have Rushmore on my Rushmore?)
With this film, you have four stories connected by Bill Murray and his French Dispatch Magazine. When you have a movie with multiple stories involved it’s very hard to have them all be at a high level. Some get more attention than others; it happens with storytelling. I found myself wanting more from certain segments and less from others. This threw off the pacing of the film for me, which dragged at times.
One strong area that Anderson films always have going for them is the strong acting. Anderson is a filmmaker that you can tell everyone wants to work with at some point. No matter the size of the role, people will make themselves available. Bravo to the whole cast on making every amount of screen time special. Anderson also uses animation in this film for select scenes, and I was a big fan of this.
There’s a longer animated segment towards the end that reminds me somewhat of Monty Python’s use of animated storytelling. Shout out to cinematographer Robert D. Yeoman in what could arguably be an award-worthy job. His ability to shoot the film beautifully in different color formats is masterful.
Shout out to composer Alexandre Desplat. His score elevates the visuals, sets the mood, and at times helps the film. See The French Dispatch for the brilliance of Wes Anderson. Where other filmmakers need millions, CGI, and several shots to tell a story, Anderson can do it all in one shot practically and with a small budget.
The French Dispatch is now playing in theaters.