Wes Anderson hasn’t made a live-action film since 2014’s sumptuous and melancholy The Grand Budapest Hotel. So his return to the form that made him an internationally beloved filmmaker after six years is both welcome and intriguing. Nothing against his last movie, the stop-motion animated Isle of Dogs, but everything teased so far about The French Dispatch suggests a thematically richer experience. The French Dispatch shot between November 2018 and March 2019 in Angoulême, a small city located in the southwest of France, and it’s et to be one of the first releases under Fox Searchlight’s new post-Disney moniker, “Searchlight Pictures.”
The French Dispatch Trailer
Check out the first trailer for The French Dispatch here…
The French Dispatch Release Date
The French Dispatch will see Anderson return to the warmer summer months with a release slated for July 24, 2020.
The French Dispatch Cast
The French Dispatch is filled almost entirely with Anderson alumni. Among the troupe stalwarts appearing in major roles are:
Tilda Swinton – After starring in relatively minor but memorable roles in Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Isle of Dogs, Swinton joins The French Dispatch for an apparently larger part as J.K.L. Berensen, a staff member of the fictional French Dispatch at the center of the movie.
Bill Murray – Murray has long been a staple in Anderson’s movies, including Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Darjeeling Limited, Moonrise Kingdom, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. In The French Dispatch he plays Arthur Howitzer Jr., the editor-in-chief of The French Dispatch and a man apparently based on Howard Ross, co-founder of The New Yorker.
Frances McDormand – McDormand previously worked with Anderson on Moonrise Kingdom and Isle of Dogs, and in The French Dispatch, she portrays Lucinda Krementz, a journalist writing about the student revolutionaries at the heart of one of the movie’s main subplots.
Adrien Brody – Previously working with Anderson in The Darjeeling Limited, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, and The Grand Budapest Hotel, Brody plays Julien Cadazio, a fictional art dealer who is based on Lord Duveen, the subject a six-part New Yorker story.
Owen Wilson – Wilson has been with Anderson since the beginning, appearing in Bottle Rocket and most of Anderson’s following movies. He even co-wrote Anderson’s first three films, including Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. He he portrays Herbsaint Salzerac, a staff writer at the French Dispatch.
Timothée Chalamet – The rising star will play Zefferelli, a student revolutionary who happens to share the same name as a famed Italian film director.
Mathieu Amalric – Cast in an unspecified role, Amalric (Munich, Quantum of Solace) is apparently a lead character.
Other newcomers also include Elisabeth Moss and Christoph Waltz.
The French Dispatch Story
Clearly intended to be a tribute to journalists during precarious times in our world, the film is expected to be something of an anthology that follows interwoven stories chronicled in The French Dispatch, a fictional American newspaper located in the southwest of France. Set circa World War II, it apparently draws inspiration from The New Yorker and likely the type of post-war movies about mid-20th century muckrakers. The official logline is:
“A love letter to journalists set in an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city that brings to life a collection of stories published in The French Dispatch magazine.”
This is an intriguing setting since The Grand Budapest Hotel was set in a fictional hotel in a fictional nation, but clearly dealt with the horrors of fascism rising in the kind of gilded society that Anderson movies previously treated as harmless. Yet that 2014 film depicted a certain bitterness about how it all went away during the Second World War, so one wonders if this will thematically continue those thoughts.
The French Dispatch Poster
David Crow is the Film Section Editor at Den of Geek. He’s also a member of both the Critics Choice Association and the Online Film Critics Society. Read more of his work here. You can follow him on Twitter @DCrowsNest.