Wes Anderson’s return to the screen consists of his most stylised piece yet. The Grand Budapest Hotel makes for a fun watch with plenty of laughs all around. It’s up there in the better half of this whimsical director’s portfolio. It is certainly less whimsical than most. This seems to be Anderson at his driest. The story moves rapidly from one pastel coloured corridor to the next with a new character popping up to say hello every three minutes. Anderson knows how to direct his actors. The performances that he coaxed from the two young protagonists in Moonrise Kingdom remains the best thing about that film. Here he conjures a masterful performance from the young Tony Revolori whose performance is only heightened by the chemistry felt between his and Ralph Fiennes’ character.
Told in retrospect, we meet Zero, (Revolori) a lobby boy who is being trained under the watchful eye of the talented concierge, Gustave H (Fiennes), at The Grand Budapest Hotel. It is 1932 and the hotel is at its glorious and luxurious peak. Gustave H has many a sexual encounter with his older, female clientèle. It is not long before murder, art robbery, betrayal, escape and vendetta are unleashed and the roguish concierge is on a thrilling hunt for a lost will and several answers; his faithful and dedicated lobby boy consistently in tow. This is a story of friendship, love and drama. Not Anderson’s best but far from his worst. Let’s face it, even his worst is pretty damn good.
I can’t help but feel a strong connection between this and Anderson’s two other most recent feature films. Moonrise Kingdom consisted of the same underlying thrills and themes of devotion. Young love is ever present again in The Grand Budapest Hotel as is the warm and ever charming colour palette. It also has the simplicity of Fantastic Mr. Fox and the same wry humour that makes for a refreshing change from Anderson’s other more melancholy comedies. Other than Fantastic Mr. Fox, which marked Anderson’s move into puppetry and animation, his latest film feels the most ‘animated’. One of my friends with whom I saw the film described the appearance of the film as “doll house-like” which is a pretty accurate summary of this film’s visual.
The idyllic appearance of The Grand Budapest Hotel is complimented by its charming musical score. The performances keep up with the rapid pace of this picture. The familiar faces of Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and others such as Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton and Willem Dafoe are of course a pleasure to see but the brief and excellent inclusion of Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Mathieu Amalric, Saoirse Ronan and Tom Wilkinson keep the film alive; bubbling with personality. Of course, each of them have made the adjustments necessary in order to enter Anderson’s film universe but that’s all part of the fun.
This is ultimately Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori’s picture. They are equally brilliant, equally diverse and equally engaging. This feels like Anderson’s most fun film yet. This and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou are evidence of Anderson’s ability to occasionally leave behind the whimsy and sometimes just get a little bit silly. The Grand Budapest Hotel remains intelligent and quick-witted amidst the chaos and amusing nonsense and, ultimately, that makes for a thoroughly enjoyable cinema trip.
The Grand Budapest Hotel at IMDb
The Grand Budapest Hotel at Wikipedia
The Grand Budapest Hotel film’s website
The Grand Budapest Hotel (awards won and nominated for) at IMDb