So my apologies for any blog neglecting/delayed responses over the weekend—I forgot to mention that I’d be out of town. But, GUYS…something WONDERFUL happened while I was away. I saw a brand-spanking new movie, and I really liked it! What a lovely way to finish out a very lackluster movie month!
When I first heard about The Grand Budapest Hotel, I wasn’t sure if it’d be my thing. I hadn’t seen many Wes Anderson films, and from what I had seen (The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou), I couldn’t decide if I liked Anderson’s style. Definitely unique and visually interesting, sure, but sometimes when I watched these films, I just felt like Anderson was trying way too hard to be different—a hipster among directors, if you will. And I’ve never much cared for hipsters. However, there’s no denying that his films have a certain quirky charm about them that make for fun, interesting stories. Keeping that in mind and remembering the many glowing reviews I’d seen from several lovely people on WordPress, I suggested checking out Grand Budapest when my friends and I were seeking out something to do. And you know what? I didn’t just like it—I loved it.
Synopsis: “The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend.” –Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.
The Good: Where to begin? Well, at this point I suppose it’s pretty much to be expected from all Anderson films, but the visuals are delightful—particularly the Grand Budapest herself. A pale pink exterior, a bright red elevator interior, a staff clad in deep purple—it’s all a feast for the eyes. I feel like this ridiculously diverse color palette wouldn’t work most filmmakers, but somehow Anderson pulls it off with style. He also has a tendency to use miniature models of sets to show certain objects moving (elevators, ski lifts, etc.). It can be a bit jarring if you aren’t at least somewhat familiar with Anderson, but it’s actually a cute effect that adds a touch of humor and makes you pay attention to a scene you may have otherwise ignored. Speaking of humor, this film is absolutely bursting with it. Anderson’s screenplay relishes in everything from clever, funny dialogue to outrageous physical humor. Honestly, I think the film can coax a laugh from almost anyone. Of course, I have to give the cast as much credit as the screenplay for that. Anderson tends to work with the same actors in his films, and, yes, Grand Budapest is chock-full of the usual suspects (Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Owen Wilson, etc.), but it’s some of the newbies to the Anderson world that steal the spotlight this time. Ralph Fiennes is absolutely brilliant as the ridiculously charming (and charmingly ridiculous) concierge of the hotel, Monsieur Gustave. I don’t think I’ve ever seen Fiennes in such a fun, hilarious role. He owns it. Alongside veteran Fiennes is Tony Revolori—a new face in Hollywood. Revelori plays hard-working, loyal lobby boy Zero, and I’m fairly certainly it is impossible not to love him. Throw in Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, and more. It’s quite a cast. Now put all the above factors together with a rich story of mystery, murder, adventure, love, war, and nostalgia. Are you beginning to see why I liked this one so much?
Favorite scene: There’s a moment on a train when Gustave gets almost unreasonably worked up about the safety of his young protégé, Zero. It’s the first time we realize the depth of Gustave’s affection for the boy, and it is just too sweet.
The Bad: Since I completely loved this film, this is mostly going to be nitpicking. The film has a distinctly European vibe so, naturally, there are several European actors with their respective European accents. However, there are also several American actors with their respective American accents. This would be fine if they were playing American characters, but they’re not. I’m fairly certain most of these actors could pull off accents, and I’m a little puzzled about why Anderson didn’t at least have them try. The jumble of accents is slightly off-putting. There’s also something to be said about the lack of female characters. Aside from Swinton’s character, Madame D., Ronan’s Agatha is pretty much the only female character who is integral to the plot. I’ve seen strong, interesting female characters from Anderson in the past, so I’m a little surprised there aren’t more of them to be found in Grand Budapest. Other than that, I will simply say that Anderson’s style is just not for everyone. It’s wacky and whimsical, and that never lets up. If you’re not sucked in after the first 10 minutes, it might be a long movie for you.
Least favorite scene: There’s a moment when the Young Writer (Law) observes that Mr. Moustafa (Abraham) is crying. The camera zooms in on Moustafa’s face, and it looks like someone has thrown a glass of water into his face. The tears are so exaggerated that it almost seems like it’s supposed to be funny, but humor doesn’t seem right for this particular moment. However, this is the only instance I can think of that took me out of the film.
To Sum It Up: I mentioned that Anderson might not be suited to everyone’s taste. However, in my opinion, this is probably his most accessible film yet. In fact, it may even be his masterpiece. I truly believe there is something for everyone in The Grand Budapest Hotel. I can’t recommend it enough.
My Grade: A
IMPORTANT REMINDER: Tomorrow is April 1st! Know what that means? Well, yes, you’re probably going to get pranked. But it also marks the first day of my April Fools series! I’ll be kicking things off with a list of my own, but guest lists will follow! I’ve received several wonderful write-ups, but I will happily accept more. If you’re planning to send something, it would be great if I could get it to me by the end of the day, but yes—I WILL accept them beyond that. Just send your stuff to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as you can. I can’t wait to begin sharing what I have so far! 🙂