The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson // 2014 // 100 mins
Recounting the adventures of a legendary concierge in The Grand Budapest Hotel, director Wes Anderson takes us on yet another fantastic, wickedly funny adventure filled with a colourful collection of unforgettable characters.
Ralph Fiennes is Gustave H, the charming, flamboyant, devilish and promiscuous concierge of noted hotel The Grand Budapest. When one of the hotel's most wealthy and regular clients Madame D (Tilda Swinton) dies under mysterious circumstances, Gustave rushes to her deathbed where, in the presence of her family, he learns that she has bequeathed to him a priceless renaissance painting known as 'Boy with Apple'. Fully aware that the old woman's greedy family will do anything to stop him acquiring the valuable masterpiece Gustave steals the painting and heads back to his beloved hotel, and at his side through all of this is his newly hired lobby boy and now partner in crime, Zero (Tony Revolori). Madame D's family, led by Dimitri (Adrien Brody), then have Gustave charged with her murder and what follows is a non-stop escapade of prison breaks, young love, murder plots, mountaintop chases and a secret society of hotel concierges.
Few directors can boast the creative control that Anderson has over his films, and The Grand Budapest Hotel is arguably the directors most stylised film to date. This feels like the result of Anderson having perfected the signature visual style that runs through all of his previous films and his exquisite compositions are greatly enhanced by his decision to utilise different aspect ratios for each of the three time periods of this story. Every shot feels significant, purposeful, as though you could choose any frame at random and it would be just as perfectly composed as the next. The film's fictional setting, The Republic of Zubrowka, is yet another vibrant creation of Anderson's, made up of picturesque snowy mountains, narrow cobbled streets and of course the eponymous pastel-pink hotel and its luxurious scarlet interior.
The cast is a comprehensive who's who of Anderson regulars, with just enough new faces thrown in to keep things fresh. Like Moonrise Kingdom before it, The Grand Budapest Hotel boats the discovery of another young talent by Anderson in Tony Revolori, the young actor carries much of the narrative with ease and more than holds his own in a film packed full of big names. Unsurprisingly Fiennes steals the show as Gustave, giving his all as the charismatic, potty-mouthed concierge and clearly having a ball doing so. The actor is a perfect choice to bring out the dry humour of Anderson's script and a welcome addition to the directors exclusive group of collaborators, he and Revolori also share a great chemistry that adds heart to the central relationship between Gustave and Zero. There are also enjoyable but brief cameos from the likes of Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe and Edward Norton, all of whom flesh out this new roster of eccentric characters for Anderson's catalogue.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a caper to top all capers. A beautifully crafted film full to the brim with whimsical characters, all tied together by Alexandre Desplat's quaint score, this is Wes Anderson at his most Andersonian. The film is romanticised silliness with a dark streak and a truly grand addition to the work of an auteur whose unique worlds are always a joy to escape into for an hour or two.