FNE at Cannes 2021: Competition: The French Dispatch

    The French Dispatch by  Wes Anderson The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson copyright: 2021, 20th Century Studios and TFD Productions LLC

    CANNES: Fans of cult director and writer Wes Anderson have been waiting for The French Dispatch, which screens in the main competition in Cannes this year. This is Anderson’s love letter to highbrow literary magazines like The New Yorker and the cast of writers, humourists and illustrators that such magazines who nurture these talented eccentrics produced.

    Bill Murray plays the editor of a fictitious American magazine which has its home in a small French town. The staff is preparing the final issue of this quixotic venture and whose staff with Timothée Chalamet and Frances McDormand are assembled to prepare their final issue.

    For this outing scriptwriter Anderson has been joined by Roman Coppola, Hugo Guinness and Jason Schwartzman who all get story credits.

    Anderson collects many of his regular favourite actors for the cast of this romp. The idea is that a magazine titled The French Dispatch, which is circulated in American but based in the fictional French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé, has convened its staff to write an obituary about its beloved editor Arthur Howitzer Jr. The memories of the former editor create four stories, a travelogue of the seediest sections of the city itself from The Cycling Reporter, The Concrete Masterpiece, about a criminally insane painter, Revisions to a Manifesto, a chronicle of love and death on the barricades at the height of student revolt; and The Private Dining Room of the Police Commissioner, a suspenseful tale of drugs, kidnapping and fine dining.

    Speaking about the film in a statement the director said “I remember reading an interview with Tom Stoppard in which someone asked him where one of his plays came from and he said that it’s always two different beginnings of an idea for something that he puts together and that becomes the next play. That’s exactly what happens to me every single time. So this movie is actually three things: a collection of short stories, something I’ve always wanted to do; a movie inspired by The New Yorker and the kind of writer they’re famous for publishing; and, I’ve spent a lot of time in France over the years and I’ve always wanted to do a French movie, and a movie that was related to French cinema.”

    The film obviously references The New Yorker which Anderson describers as a magazine which has been a touchstone since high school. “When I was in tenth grade, my home room in Houston was in the library, and across from me were these wooden racks of magazines. There was one with illustration on the cover, and I started looking at it. I became a regular reader of The New Yorker in my home room waiting for school to begin. I started reading the back issues and picking up the names of the writers that appeared over and over again. So, I got really hooked.”

    Tilda Swinton summed up, “It’s Wes’ French love letter to internationalism, culture and the blessed art of independent journalism.”

    This is vintage Wes Anderson and the film promises that if you like his style you won’t be disappointed. The film was originally slated to have its premiere in Cannes in 2020 and has been held back from distribution for a year to allow it to premiere in the Cannes lineup. Considering that the action takes place in France and Wes Anderson has acknowledged many French influences Cannes is not doubt the right place for this film.


    The French Dispatch (USA, UK, France, Germany)

    Directed by Wes Anderson

    Cast: Benicio Del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Christoph Waltz, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Anjelica Huston