I remember the first time I watched a film by Texan born Wes Anderson. The film in question was 2001’s “The Royal Tenenbaums” and I wasn’t particularly blown away by it. I watched “The Life Aquatic” and “Fantastic Mister Fox” and, again, while I enjoyed the films I didn’t quite “get” them like some did. Then I watched his 2012 film “Moonrise Kingdom” when it was released for home cinema and it was the first of Anderson’s films that I truly and thoroughly enjoyed.
When I saw the details being released on the lead-up to the “The Grand Budapest Hotel” I was intrigued and excited, the film looked to have an immensely talented cast, many of whom I enjoy very much, and the story sounded to be up my proverbial street. Having now seen the film I can honestly say that, in my view, this is Andersons best yet and I was completely seduced by its stylish, weird and wonderful charm.
The plot of the film is as colourful as the walls in the Budapest. We follow the exploits of a legendary concierge in-between the world wars, Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) and his protégé and friend, Zero. The two encounter a variety of characters as they deal with life, love and theft. It’s a wonderful tale and one filled with bright colours, exceptional cinematography and an abundance of humour.
Fiennes is brilliant and looks as if he is having an amazing time with his role. He shines every time he is on the screen and brings about the most layered and enjoyable character that Wes Anderson has ever created. But Ralph is just the cake topper on the pinnacle of an exceptional smorgasbord of talent. Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman and Tilda Swinton, among many others, jump into frames as side characters and it is wonderful to see them all. Adrian Brody, as Dimitri, is excellent, and F. Murray Abraham plays a terrific role as Mr Moustafa, a character at the centre of the story who also narrates the film. It is Tony Revolori as Zero though, who, along with Fiennes, carries the film. A performance that should see this young man have more big offers coming his way in the future.
From its opening moments this film is gorgeous to look at, and with its colour palette and use of themes running through rooms with symmetry and a fresh and vibrant use of framing, it is just beautiful to watch. The use of different aspect ratios as the film proceeds is also a really wonderful and enjoyable thing to witness. The performances all feel exciting and bursting with flavour, mixing drama, action and comedy in a way that exceeds possibility. Made with Anderson’s wit and individualistic sense of humour and curiosity of which we have become accustomed, The Grand Budapest Hotel is just a marvelous film that left me wide-eyed and smiling as the credits rolled.