Sunday, April 13, 2014

FILM REVIEW: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Grand Budapest Hotel...the title of the film says it all really...
The latest offering from genius auteur, Wes Anderson, is nothing short of a masterpiece. I have been anticipating this film for what seems like close to a year.
My history and love of Wes starts with a friend recommending Rushmore to me, which I loved and immediately sought out Bottle Rocket. Not long after The Royal Tenenbaums came out and I was in love, and up until now it remained my favourite of his films. Though Moonrise Kingdom was hot on its heels and I have a very tender spot of the The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou. Look! I love all his films!
It is his curation of sets, attention to detail, superb casting and unique storytelling that make his films the complete package. Even his palette and use of colour is utterly unique. I am sure we would be firm friends...or maybe even more!

And so, Grand Budapest Hotel, his 8th film, set around this grand hotel in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. It is a romp and a caper set over the decades but mostly about when the hotel was at its height, in between the world wars.
It begins in 'the present' with a young girl mourning the death of 'the writer' (Tom Wilkinson), moves back to the late 60s when 'the writer' (now played by Jude Law) is staying at the now dilapidated hotel and chances upon the elderly owner of the hotel, Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), who tells him of how he became the owner of the hotel.
The film then goes back to the 30s when the Hotel was at its height and where most action takes place. This is a layered film, but told with stunning ease.
Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), is the suave concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel, and Zero (now played Tony Revolori) is the Lobby Boy. When an elderly patron of the hotel (Tilda Swinton) is murdered, and a rare renaissance paining is stolen, Gustave is the main suspect. And so like many caper films, he goes on the run to clear his name, taking Zero along for the ride.
The cast is nothing short of stunning, also including Saoirse Ronan, Lea Seydoux, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe,Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, and Jason Schwartzman.
But it is Fiennes and Revolori that shine. Fiennes is outstanding, with a here to now unseen comic timing and amusing physicality that was incredibly hilarious. Revolori, young and new to film, is superb and with perfect delivery. Together they shine, what an unlikely but fabulous pairing.
There are many 'parts' to the film and whilst it all blends in smoothly with the film as a whole, they stand out visually in a way that has became Anderson's visual trademark. The scenes set in the museum with Goldblum and Dafoe are amusing, dark, wondrous, and grotesque. And the chase scene in the snow is one of the most thrilling, hilarious, ridiculous, and perfectly filmed chase scenes I have ever seen.
That is to say the cinematography on this is superb, and unlike anything I have ever seen. The set design out of this world, from funiculars, to artworks, to Mendl's bakery and the superb costumes.

This is a film about movement, the trains, lifts, funicular, ladders, rooftop jumping, the swing of a coat, or the flick of a hair, nothing is left to chance.
The attention to detail, as always, is nothing short of amazing, but even makes all his other films seem like he didn't even bother...which of course he did, but you get what I am trying to say!
The script was sharp and witty, poignant and dark, and the delivery of these words by the actors note perfect, vocally and visually.
Yes, Perfect, superb and genius pretty much sum up this magnificent film. It is a 5 star film and one of the most wondrous experiences I have had in many, many years!!!
I will see it again and it is most certainly my favourite Wes Anderson film to date.
I only have two concerns, I wanted more, and what will he do next???
I guess we'll wait and see...

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