Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Adrien Brody, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman
You can immediately tell when you are watching a Wes Anderson film. His use of colour, music and a quirky tone is felt throughout all his films. The Grand Budapest Hotel is not an exception to this rule, from the opening minute you know this is a Wes Anderson film. It’s a charming, fantastical, whimsical, fairy tale of a story.
Just from the beginning, a young girl is reading a book by a monument to the author. The book is about the author’s meeting of the owner of The Grand Budapest Hotel who in turn tells the author a story about how he came to own the hotel. On top of this you are watching a film of the girl visiting the monument to the author to read his book. This should give you an idea of what type of film this is. It’s quirky full of charm and not meant to be taken seriously. Unlike so many films, this is self-aware and doesn’t want you to believe it is real. From the imbedded narrative to the fake scenery and miniature models that are used to tell the story, this is meant to be devoured like fine chocolate.
Without going into the main plot too much, Zero (Tony Revolori) is a new bellhop at the title hotel. He is taken by Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) as his protégé to learn how to be the best bellhop he can be. One of the regular guests dies and they travel together, to her will reading, where Gustave H. is bequeathed a priceless painting. The family don’t like this and try to stop it at any cost.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is the ultimate Wes Anderson film. While with most of his films, there are flaws, from feeling too long or a cold and detached feeling from a character perspective, None of that on display here. What you get is a very funny and sweet story with a large cast of characters that are all wonderfully performed by an insanely large number of great actors, who are all giving their best. Willem Defoe is beyond sinister and unsettling as the private investigator/hitman hired by the deceased’s family and Ralph Fiennes is superb and makes a very horrible character extremely charming and lovable. Just to give 2 examples.
As with all Wes Anderson films, the eye to detail in every shot is superb. The colours are all vivid and add to the magical feeling of everything. The scenery is beautiful, and the music punctuates every scene with the feeling of wonder and oddity. It’s a very warm feeling film, that invites you into a strange world to tell a quirky story against the backdrop of a very real and horrible war. Each character is different and strange, with everything adding to the tapestry that is The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Before watching this, Moonrise Kingdom was my favourite Wes Anderson film, and while I still love that film, I think it’s now been replaced. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a perfect film and if you haven’t already, then watch it. Be whisked away into a fairy tale of murder, thievery and suspense.