If you’re going to release the first clip from Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” best to stir up buzz by having Timothée Chalamet naked in it. Smart move, Searchlight Pictures. New footage from Anderson’s latest has debuted pairing Chalamet with three-time acting Oscar winner Frances McDormand. The black-and-white clip comes from one of the three anthology stories packed into Anderson’s “French Dispatch.”
In this particular “French Dispatch” story, McDormand plays the straight-faced journalist Lucinda Krementz and Chalamet stars as the quirky student activist Zeffirelli. Lucinda and Zeffirelli’s relationship takes unexpected turns as the journalist profiles the exploits of the activist. In his B+ review of “The French Dispatch” out of Cannes, IndieWire chief critic Eric Kohn singled out this segment of the film as one of its most memorable.
“It’s the McDormand/Chalamet segment that allows Anderson to bring much grander ambitions to bear, as he maps out the story of student revolutionaries in smoke-filled bars with such overt early Godard overtones it’s a wonder he doesn’t include a reference to the children of Marx and Coca-Cola,” Kohn writes. “However, he does give us Chalamet’s Zeferelli in a bizarre love triangle with an older woman and the radical French motorcyclist (Lyna Khoudri) whose ideology doesn’t quite line up with his own.”
Kohn continues, “The sight of the pair mounted on her bike, speeding upward through a black abyss, is one of the most lyrical, even haunting, images in Anderson’s repertoire; it evokes the constant sense of mystery and journeying to exotic destinations, both real and imagined, that often exist at the center of his work.”
Elsewhere in his review, Kohn writes of the film, “It’s hard to imagine another living filmmaker with a style as instantly recognizable as Wes Anderson, a feat that works against him no matter how expansive his approach. ‘The French Dispatch’ doubles down on it, with a freewheeling triptych of stories that make the case for his appeal by amplifying it.”
“The French Dispatch” opens in theaters October 22 from Searchlight Pictures. The date happens to be the same day Warner Bros. is opening another Chalamet vehicle, “Dune.” Watch the first clip from Anderson’s latest below.