Cannes: Anatomy of a Standing Ovation for ‘The French Dispatch’

by 24USATVJuly 13, 2021, 5 p.m. 22
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CANNES, France — Wes Anderson has been waiting a long time for “The French Dispatch” to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival.

A star-studded comedic anthology about the final issue of a literary magazine, “The French Dispatch” was meant to debut here last year until the pandemic prevented the festival from being held. 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.

So did the film festival. Cannes runs mainly on auteur worship and movie stars, and “The French Dispatch” offered heaping helpings of both. Cast members, including Timothée Chalamet, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Benicio Del Toro and Owen Wilson, all turned out in support of Anderson’s film, contributing to what is almost certainly the biggest movie premiere that has been held since the pandemic began.

Cannes responded in kind, and the audience at the Grand Théâtre Lumière offered “The French Dispatch” a nine-minute standing ovation after the closing credits rolled. These epic-length orgies of applause are one of the festival’s best-known quirks, but to outsiders, the ovations must be baffling: Does the audience really stand up and clap for that long? Wouldn’t that get old fast?

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