CANNES – Wes Anderson waited a long time for The French Dispatch premiere at Cannes Film Festival.
An all-star comedy anthology featuring a star-studded cast about the final issue a literary magazine ” The French Dispatch” was originally meant to be released here last year but was canceled by the pandemic. Instead of putting his movie out in the interim, Anderson held on to it for another year, and at Monday night’s glitzy Cannes premiere, he finally got his wish.
Film festival also had a strong presence. Cannes is known for its auteur worship and film stars. “The French Dispatch,” however, provided ample amounts of both. Tilda Swanton, Owen Wilson, Benicio De Toro, Bill Murray and Timothee Chalamet all came out to support Anderson’s film. This was almost certainly the biggest movie premiere since the pandemic.
Cannes responded with a standing ovation of nine minutes after the closing credits rolled. These lengthy applause orgies are a highlight of the festival, but it’s not clear if the audience is really willing to stand and clap for such a long time. Wouldn’t that get old fast?
Let me describe how a Cannes standing ovation is done using last night’s standing O for “The French Dispatch” as the minute-by–minute model. Anderson must have been anticipating this ovation for over a decade, even though it seemed that he wanted it ending as quickly as possible.
1 second in: The credits end, the lights go on, and the cheering audience gets to its feet. Anderson and his cast are seated in the middle of the theater when a cameraman moves toward him. He films them and simultaneously broadcasts it on the Lumiere’s big-screen screen. This generates even more cheers from the crowd.
6 Seconds in:Though Anderson rises from his chair, the rest of his cast remain seated. Nervous, he tries to coax them to stand alongside him, but the actors hold fast: They want Anderson to have his own moment where he can be singularly applauded for his work.
36 secs in: Anderson’s discomfort is only temporary. Anderson pleads to them to get up. He is seated right next to Chalamet as well as Lyna Khoudri, the actress who plays the role of French revolutionaries. They get up but, when Chalamet turns around to see that no other actor is standing, he remains in his place.
45 seconds in: Murray stands up and waves to the cheering audience. The rest of cast are doing mental calculations.
One minute and ten seconds in: Murray takes out a fan to blow cool air at the director. Murray grabs a fan and begins to blow cool air at his director.
1 minute 30 seconds in: The actor Mathieu amalric grabs his iPhone and begins recording a video with the cast. Fitting, since everyone else in the Lumiere has an iPhone trained on them, too.
1 Minute and 50 Seconds in: Swinton walks down the line with her co-stars, giving Adrien Brody a double kiss on the cheek. Let me attempt to describe Swinton’s outfit, which consists of a satiny pink blouse, glittery green sleeves and an orange skirt: She looks like the most glamorous fruit plate you’ve ever seen.
Two minutes in:How does a Cannes standing-ovation sustain itself for more than two minutes at Cannes? This is the trick: Instead of recording a wide shot, the Lumiere cameraman now records sustained close-ups with each actor. This allows the audience give each performer their own round and is one reason why Cannes films starring a large ensemble receive longer ovations.
Two minutes and twenty seconds into: While the camera pans from Amalric’s close-up to Khoudri to Amalric, Brody races to his place at one end of the cast roster and heads towards the action. He hugges Amalric who is in front of him, and the camera pulls back.
Chalamet is now in close-up. As the crowd applauds, Chalamet exclaims “Thank you!” Anderson is then referred to by Chalamet and encouraged the cameraman not to film Anderson.
2 Minutes and 55 Seconds in:Anderson sits with Wilson and seems totally uninterested at enduring another minute of the audience’s extended attention. Instead, the camera focuses on Swinton who is a Cannes veteran and has been in three films this year. Swinton is an experienced pro at receiving standing ovations. However, she shakes her head and points to the director. She eventually takes over and moves the camera towards Anderson.
3 minutes 23 seconds in: The cameraman continues to focus on Anderson’s close-up, which causes a rousing round of cheers and whoops from the exhausted crowd. It’s obvious that the director isn’t sure what to do when he’s the only focus of the frame. Murray arrives to save the director.
3 minutes 53 seconds in: Brody leans forward to kiss Anderson on his cheeks and tousles the hair. We aren’t even halfway through the thing.
4 minutes and 30 seconds in: Swinton takes the taped “Tilda Swinton” placard from her seat and affixes it to the back of Chalamet’s silver jacket. We have reached the improv-comedy portion of the night.
5 minutes 25 seconds into:After locating del Toro in the final act of the cast, the cameraman now has fulfilled his obligation of allowing each performer their own round of applause. So, what will keep everyone ovating? Cast mischief. The camera moves back to Chalamet, and he hides his face using the “Tilda Swinton” sign. Swinton takes it from his hands. He tapes it on his back, right where it belongs.
5 minutes, 50 seconds into: Now that Brody is hugging him, Chalamet turns towards the camera and does the “meet-guy made-la-fingers thing /”>”L.A.” fingers” hand gesture. Brody blows a very serious kiss to the camera.
6 minutes, 5 seconds in:Yes. We’re moving into Minute 6. Anderson pulls out his pink handkerchief and wipes the brow. Anderson seems teary-eyed.
After 6 minutes and 35 seconds, Chalamet turns toward Anderson and bows in an “I’m not worthy” salute. The applause is starting to flag a little. It’s high time to grab the big guns.
7 mins and 7 secs in:Anderson gets a microphone. He attempts to hide his dismay but Cannes officials force him to take it.
7 minute and 15 seconds in: Anderson, who lives in Paris, begins to speak to the audience in French. He calls the premiere “unhonneur pour moi”, but after seven seconds, he turns to Chalamet in French and cracks in English. Anderson then adds, “I hope you come back with another one soon.” Thank you.
7 Minutes and 30 Seconds In:Anderson gave a short speech that was enough to revive the crowd. Now, the applause has returned to its initial level.
7 minutes and 50 seconds in: Several French-accented cries of “Bravo!” are heard as Anderson tucks his long hair behind his ears and scans the audience.
8 mins and 24 seconds in:Murray walks over to Anderson to ask if he’s ready for him to leave. Anderson could not possibly agree more, racing up the aisle so quickly that he bumps into the cameraman, who is still filming him.
8 Minutes and 40 Seconds in:It appears that Anderson is being blocked by the cameraman. Anderson won’t let him go! Anderson is forced to stand in an aisle and receive even more applause, encouraging whistles, and cheers from the crowd. Anderson’s face is somewhere between an awkward grunt and pure, stunned joy. That is almost nine minutes worth of standing ovations.
9 minutes in: The cameraman relents and allows Anderson to move forward. The ovation subsides as the director and his cast leave the theater. The French rush outside for a smoke-free environment, while Americans chase outside for tweets.