The next Wes Anderson movie is now shooting in Angoulême, France, and details about the cast and story have begun to leak out. Indiewire reports that the film, to be called The French Dispatch is a 20th century period piece set in the French bureau of an American newspaper, which they describe as “a love letter to journalists.” The ensemble cast will include Bill Murray, Frances McDorman, Tilda Swinton, Timothée Chalamet, Benicio del Toro and Jeffrey Wright, and the film will interweave three storylines.
The 20th century is a pretty long period—nearly 101 years!—and a film about journalism in Paris during that era could cover anything from the Dreyfus affair to the Bill Clinton affair. Given Anderson’s tastes, however, smart money says this will be set in the middle of the 20th century, will strike a few notes from the work of A.J. Liebling and Janet Flanner at the New Yorker, and feature lots and lots of footage of mocked-up front pages featuring astonishingly precise period graphic design.
There have been a lot of cinematic love letters to journalism recently—Steven Spielberg, Tom McCarthy, Dan Gilroy—and, unfortunately, it’s not hard to suss out why: since The Perils of Pauline, filmmakers and audiences alike have been fascinated by movies about people or things that could die at any moment. Anderson, in contrast, seems to be most interested by things that have died and vanished from the world completely—see, e.g., The Grand Budapest Hotel—which means his decision to make The French Dispatch at this moment in history is an omen, and not a good one. Probably time to follow his lead and move to France.