When it comes to whimsical wordplay, Instagrammable interiors, star-filled ensembles and sheer candy-coloured escapism, nothing beats a Wes Anderson movie. It’s been three years since the idiosyncratic auteur—who has delighted audiences with Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), The Darjeeling Limited (2007) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012)—launched a new release, and his latest can’t come soon enough: The French Dispatch, billed as a love letter to journalists.
Penned by Anderson from a story developed with Jason Schwartzman, Hugo Guinness and Roman Coppola, it takes place at an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city. It’ll center on three storylines, bringing to life eccentric reports from the publication’s pages.
As the director’s last live-action extravaganza, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), received nine Oscar nominations and won four (for its score, production design, costumes, and hair and makeup), The French Dispatch is already being heralded as a Best Picture contender for 2022.
Ahead of its release, we round up all the details to know about its cast, plot and madcap trailer.
Who will be in the ensemble cast of The French Dispatch?
The film’s cast looks set to be the most impressive Anderson has ever assembled. Oscar winners Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Benicio Del Toro and Adrien Brody are among the leads. Alongside them are Anderson’s past collaborators Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Léa Seydoux and Mathieu Amalric, as well as new additions Timothée Chalamet, Jeffrey Wright, Lyna Khoudri and Stephen Park.
If that wasn’t enough, you should also look out for Saoirse Ronan, Elisabeth Moss, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Christoph Waltz, Anjelica Huston, Liev Schreiber and Jason Schwartzman—further proof that Hollywood heavyweights are still clamouring to work with the beloved director.
What is the plot of The French Dispatch?
The French Dispatch of the Liberty, Kansas Evening Sun is the film’s full title. When asked about the plot by French publication Charente Libre in April 2019, Anderson replied that it was about “an American journalist based in France [who] creates [a] magazine. It’s more of a portrait of this man, of this journalist, who fights to write what he wants to write. It is not a film about freedom of the press, but when you talk about reporters you also talk about what’s going on in the real world.”
Anderson’s own interest in The New Yorker is believed to have inspired the film. A 2020 story in that magazine explained that Bill Murray will play Arthur Howitzer Jr who is “inspired by Harold Ross, The New Yorker’s founding editor”. Meanwhile, Adrien Brody will play Julian Cadazio, an art dealer “modelled on Lord Duveen, who was the subject of a six-part New Yorker profile by SN Behrman in 1951.” Then there’s Jeffrey Wright’s character, Roebuck Wright, who’s described as “a mashup of [novelist] James Baldwin and [journalist] AJ Liebling”, while the segment with Frances McDormand is “inspired by The Events in May: A Paris Notebook, Mavis Gallant’s two-part article from 1968” about the student occupation protests that rocked the nation.
Is there a trailer for The French Dispatch?
Who designed the costumes for The French Dispatch?
Four-time Oscar winner Milena Canonero, the costume designer behind the fantastical outfits in Marie Antoinette (2006) and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), created the pastel-hued looks for Anderson’s sepia-toned world. There are neat skirt suits, turtlenecks and no shortage of berets.
When will The French Dispatch be released?
Thierry Frémaux, artistic director of the Cannes Film Festival, has confirmed that the film will premiere on the Croisette in July 2021. A theatrical release is expected to follow soon after.