Wes Anderson’s ‘The French Dispatch’ rolls into Cannes

CANNES, France — A year after it was first to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch” finally rolled into the French Riviera festival on Monday.

Anderson and the large cast arrived on the Cannes red carpet in a bus, with a grinning Bill Murray sitting shotgun. The film, Anderson’s elaborate and fanciful ode to The New Yorker, is perhaps the starriest ensemble playing at the festival this year. At the premiere with Murray were Tilda Swinton, Benicio Del Toro, Owen Wilson and — in his first Cannes red carpet — Timothée Chalamet.

Clad in a silvery shiny suit, Chalamet — well known for his French fluency — dashed to spectators to take selfies and sign autographs.

The premiere was a long time in coming. “The French Dispatch” was selected for last year’s Cannes, which ultimately was canceled due to the pandemic. The Searchlight Pictures release opted to wait; it will be released in theaters in October.

Still, COVID-19 impacted the film’s debut. One star, the French actress Léa Seydoux, last week tested positive while working on another film. She is fully vaccinated and asymptomatic but she was quarantining in Paris and unable to attend. The movie is also making a somewhat smaller splash in Cannes; it’s the only film in competition for the Palme d’Or that won’t hold a press conference here.

“The French Dispatch” is an affection portrait of a weekly literary magazine situated in the fictional French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé. It’s an anthology film, structured like an issue of The New Yorker, with three separate features, a travel story and an obituary. Critics were mixed on the film, praising the movie’s full-hearted tribute to 20th century magazine writing and Anderson’s intricate image-making — which in “The French Dispatch” may be on a new level even for him.