“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is from critically acclaimed writer/director Wes Anderson and stars just about everyone in Hollywood today. I must admit I have not really explored Anderson’s work but the trailer hooked me and instantly made me want to see this. However none of my local theaters were able to pick it up. So now that it is out on home video, if people still use that phase, I was finally able to view it. What this film had in store for us was a unique style of filmmaking with pitch perfect storytelling. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” plays out like a quirky screwball comedy at times with well thought out moments of vulgarity. This is such a fun film to watch that combines so many different eras of filmmaking and different tones, that it is hard not enjoy its charm and wonderful performances.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is the story of Gustave H. A legendary concierge at a famous European hotel along with his trusted companion and lobby boy, Zero Moustafa. Together they become entangled in a great adventure that involves the death of one of Gustave’s former lovers, a battle for family inheritance, a priceless renaissance painting and a quest to prove one’s innocence.
The story structure is very unusual. It starts off with a teenage girl visiting a monument for Gustave H. and pulling out a book called “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. As she is reading it, it cuts to the author, here played by Tom Wilkinson, giving the audience an introduction to the story. Then its flashes back to his younger days as an up incoming writer, then played by Jude Law, as he stumbles into the Grand Budapest and meet Zero Moustafa. He then recounts his story with Gustave, and then flashes back again! It’s truly a flashback within a flashback within a flashback. It’s flashception! (excuse my poor attempt at humor).
One of the Anderson’s biggest strengths however lies in the dialogue. It is well written and takes a more classic English approach. Large sentences and descriptive words that usually only stays in literature. Yet this is what gives the film a large amount of its charm. It’s a movie that without the dialogue I’m not sure it would be nearly as good as it already it. Certainly the humor would be lost in the shuffle had it not been for the script’s sometimes complex wordplay.
Most of the humor lies in the exchanges of dialogue between many of the different characters. There is some forms of physical humor used that is perfectly in line with the classic comedy teams of the 1940s and 50s like the Three Stooges with even some material that is very reminiscent of the later Monty Python. Yet still (like I’ve said before) it’s the dialogue that’ll have you laughing. What surprised me most is the perfectly placed moments of vulgarity. The movie has such a clean cut and proper appearance that, at first, vulgarity had no place in this movie. Then, when you least expect it, the characters explode with these lines of vulgarity that it sends shockwaves to your brain and makes you laugh. The juxtaposition is so ludicrous and out of place that it makes it more funny along with the many classic lines. You’ll be quoting this movie long after you’re finished with it.
As I mentioned before I haven’t delved deep in Wes Anderson’s filmography , but from just viewing this film you’ve already got a taste that this is a talented and inventive filmmaker. His nice long smooth pans and movements behind the camera feels so fresh and it all compliments the tone and style of the production. The sets are lavishly done and constructed, while a lot of the wide shots of the outdoors are done with models. They are clearly well constructed models which normally would feel cheap but because of the cartoonish nature of the film, it only adds to the hyper reality of the film’s tone. The nature of its tone feels more in line with fantasy than a movie trying to recount a proper historical context. Anderson brings in filmmaking techniques from the silent era to the golden age of cinema to modern day. It’s a hard movie to describe to people because it’s such a brilliant mix of so many different things.
In the beginning of my review I remarked that the movie stars just about everyone in Hollywood it. Simply because this has a huge cast! Some are in it more than others but the expansive cast all are used to their strengths. The main players include, Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Edward Norton, and F. Murray Abraham (among many others). All of them do a wonderful job but Ralph Fiennes absolutely owns the screen as Gustave H. He is witty as he is charming,providing countless laughs and smiles along with a memorable character.
This movie seems to have a sizeable but yet still small audience. This a film that no doubt will continue to gain a larger and larger audience. As time passes and word of mouth continues this could become a classic. This movie already feels like it should be. Of course there is no way of telling where this film will land with the passage of time. Wes Anderson has crafted a unique movie filled with wonderful comedy and characters. I adored this and wish I caught it on its theatrical run back in March but better late than never right?