We are all waiting patiently for any news regarding the release of Wes Anderson’s upcoming “The French Dispatch,” although a Cannes 2021 bow seems all but inevitable at this point. Thanks to a new interview that French fashion magazine L’OFFICIEL published earlier this month with Lyna Khoudri, one of the film’s stars, we have received some new updates.
Khoudri is one name in a cast full of huge names that populate Anderson’s upcoming period comedy: she plays Juliette, a student radical whose boyfriend is the fabulously-named Zeffirelli be played by none other than Timothee Chalamet. Here’s how Khoudri describes her coming to be involved with Anderson’s production. “Wes had never seen me on a screen before. It all started with a video [sent to production]. One night I filmed myself with my cell phone. I had to introduce myself. I talked about participating in a job at my high school in Saint-Ouen: I skipped classes and went dancing on the street with my friends.” Khoudri also says she acted in a short film shot in Algeria, her home, while waiting for a response from the “French Dispatch” production team.
Even when Khoudri was told she had been cast, she only knew scant details about her character or the film’s overall plot. Khoudri estimates that the amount of time the script devotes to her character comes in at about 40 pages; she also claims that she didn’t comprehend the full scope of her role in the story until she’d seen a final cut of the film, nor did even someone like Bill Murray. With a cast this voluminous, it feels safe to assume there’s going to be a lot going on in “The French Dispatch,” although Khoudri’s piece of the puzzle sounds like a memorable one.
Anderson is known for screening certain vintage/foreign/arthouse gems for his cast and crew before principal photography begins, and it sounds as though he continued that practice for “The French Dispatch.” What’s more, is that the references Khoudri mentioned in her interview may give us a clue as to some of the film’s tonal or stylistic reference points might be. “In the lobby of the hotel where we were all staying, there was a table full of DVDs,” Khoudri told L’OFFICIEL. “Dinners were almost like quizzes. Wes would ask me: ‘Did you watch “A Day In The Country” [“Partie de Campagne”] by [Jean] Renoir?’ ‘No.’ ‘Watch it.’ I went into my room and watched it immediately.” Another film that Khoudri mentioned was Jacques Rivette’s “Le Pont du Nord,” particularly the character played by Pascale Hogier, whose leather jacket getup is noticeably similar to the style that Khoudri rocks in Anderson’s movie.
Meanwhile, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” co-star Saoirse Ronan, talking to Collider about her role in “Ammonite,” shared another update on the film. “It’s everything you love about a Wes Anderson film. It’s gorgeous to look at, it’s funny, and the writing is brilliant, as it always is. There are so many different characters in it. It’s bigger than anything else he’s ever done. I just love being a part of anything he’s doing, really, because you always know it’s gonna be good.” Ronan also shared that she’s “barely” in the movie, but went on to profess her excitement for the project, which we very much share.
Khoudri has just taken a role in a new international film that she can’t quite talk about, although we’re excited to see what she brings to Anderson’s latest. At this date, “The French Dispatch” is still without a domestic or international release date. Still, it’s been rumored to be the Cannes opening film in May, and a new ‘French Dispatch’ book is now scheduled for May 25, so all signs are pointing towards the beginning of summer. That is, unless the pandemic has other plans for all of us.