The French Dispatch brings to life a collection of stories from the final issue of an American magazine published in a fictional 20th-century French city. Directed and written by Wes Anderson, the movie stars Benicio del Toro, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Léa Seydoux, Frances McDormand, Timothée Chalamet, Lyna Khoudri, Jeffrey Wright, Mathieu Amalric, Stephen Park, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson.
The movie (the full title is “The French Dispatch Of The Liberty, Kansas Evening Su”n) celebrates Anderson’s return to live action, following 2018’s Isle of Dogs. The story is focused on American journalists working in a French town – thus the magazine-cover stylings (drawn by Javi Aznarez) seen in the poster below.
The film has been described as “a love letter to journalists set at an outpost of an American newspaper in a fictional 20th-century French city”, centering on three storylines. It brings to life a collection of tales published in the eponymous The French Dispatch, based in the fictional French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé.
The film is inspired by Anderson’s love of The New Yorker, and some characters and events in the film are based on real-life equivalents from the magazine. One of the three storylines centers on the May 68 student occupation protests, inspired by Mavis Gallant’s two-part article “The Events in May: A Paris Notebook”. Another storyline, featuring Adrien Brody’s character of Julien Cadazio, is based on “The Days of Duveen”, a six-part feature in The New Yorker on art dealer Lord Duveen.
When speaking to French publication Charente Libre in April 2019, Wes Anderson said: “The story is not easy to explain, [It’s about an] American journalist based in France [who] creates his magazine. It is more a portrait of this man, of this journalist who fights to write what he wants to write. It’s not a movie about freedom of the press, but when you talk about reporters you also talk about what’s going on in the real world.”
The French Dispatch was set to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on May 12, 2020 and get a wide release on July 24, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival was cancelled and the film was pulled from the schedule. The film was rescheduled for release on October 16, 2020 before being pulled from the schedule again on July 23, 2020.