Have you seen a Wes Anderson piece? I say piece because his movies are not just movies. They are occasionally masterpieces, works of art. So, have you?
If the answer is yes, you know what to expect when you walk into the theater to see The Grand Budapest Hotel. You know, that with the exception of maybe, The Darjeeling Limited, you love all his films. You cannot even really say you don’t like any of them, because they are all positively lovely.
However, if the answer to the question is no, then you should give Grand Budapest a chance. So what if it’s quirky beyond recognition? Who cares if the score is so dastardly whimsical it lulls you to sleep in the theater, as it did with my viewing companion? This is no ordinary trip to the matinee showing on Saturday. It is a whimsical amusement park ride that, despite being immersed in adrenaline while enjoying the ride, once you debark you take a deep breath, smile, and move on with your life.
Anderson recruited Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori to turn themselves into a few of his most heartfelt characters he’s ever created. Fiennes plays a subtly lonely, yet exceptionally renowned concierge, Gustave H., at the Grand Budapest Hotel during the 1930s. With a penchant for older, rich, blonde women, Gustave H. runs the Budapest with rigorous tenacity and tough love.
Revolori’s acting debut begins with the character of Zero Mustafa, an up and coming lobby boy at the Budapest who works for Gustave H. at the Budapest. Zero is exposed as a loyal hotel worker who is true to himself and others. Gustave H. and Zero are instantly kindred spirits in the likes that they both are poetic and kind, and it is for this reason that Gustave H. keeps him as his “personal valet” as well as his friend.
As usual, Anderson’s characters and cinematography are the highlights of the film, but this plot is one of his silliest ever. Fiennes’ and Revolori’s characters are on the lamb from the conniving children of one of Fiennes’ lovers (played by Tilda Swinton) for stealing a “priceless” painting. The end result is a tale of brotherhood, bravery, and the importance of remembering the little things.
Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Jude Law, and F. Murray Abraham are delights in the film and are a part of what make a Wes Anderson film, a Wes Anderson film. Of course, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and Edward Norton make small appearances also, as per Anderson tradition.
Something that stands out in Budapest compared to other films of this director, is the amount of actual violence shown on screen. There has not been this much death in an Anderson film since The Royal Tenenbaums. That is not to say this is a bad thing. The expert assassinations carried out by Willem Dafoe’s character gives the film a darker feel than past ones.
Underneath the massive amounts of quirk and pastel colors, there is a film that most all ages will enjoy (despite the fact that there is a fair amount of cursing). The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of Wes Anderson’s finest. This one is filled with just as much truth and wit as his previous films have contained, but with a bit more of an edgy kick to it. I recommend it to fans of the director and fans of film as an art. After all, Wes Anderson is an artist. The Grand Budapest Hotel premiers in New York and Los Angeles theaters March 7.