The true ‘Poster Boy’ and connoisseur of American indie cinema has gracefully returned to our screens to showcase arguably his crowning jewel. Wes Anderson’s new flick, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is a meticulously crafted piece of work with the director’s trademark focus on all things quirky and colourful stamped all over it.
‘Grand Budapest’ is effectively a comic crime caper, set in the fictional Eastern European country of Zubrowka. Primarily through flashback, we follow the story of Monsieur Gustave, (Ralph Fiennes) as he is embroiled into a tale of theft, murder and war, whilst always accompanied by his trusty young assistant Zero Moustafa (a terrific debut from 17 year old Tony Revolori).
Anderson’s cinematography (as always) is a highlight; the fictional setting is truly mesmerizing, filled with snow-capped peaks and the winding cobbled streets that are so commonly associated with Europe. And somewhere between Alain Resnais’ exquisitely baroque Marienbad (from his 1961 film ‘Last Year at Marienbad) and Kubrick’s Overlook Hotel in ‘The Shining’, lies the eponymous Grand Budapest Hotel, located high up in the fictional mountains of Zubrowka. It has Anderson’s name written all over it, with its dazzlingly, almost ‘Disney-like’ painted exterior and its flamboyantly decorated interior; even the employees are coated in bright, eccentric purple uniforms.
However, where in other Wes Anderson films, the plot and performances are often overwhelmed by the aesthetics, Grand Budapest goes against this trend. The film is filled with excellent performances, the newcomer Tony Revolori is exceptional as Gustave’s reserved pupil and Ralph Fiennes who is undoubtedly known more for his serious roles, puts in an extremely amusing performance of the protagonist Gustave, perhaps even more amusing than his role of Harry in ‘In Bruges’.
‘Grand Budapest’ is riddled with cameos, including the Wes Anderson regulars of Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Tilda Swinton and Owen Wilson. All of which could threaten to distract from Anderson’s infectious world, but instead, merely add depth, and drama to the plot. The ensemble cast really is admirable, Willem Dafoe is menacing and lacking teeth as the black leather wearing, motorbike riding, Jopling, and Harvey Keitel is brief as fellow inmate Ludwig, a role that strangely reminds you of his brief appearance as the problem-solving ‘The Wolf’ in ‘Pulp Fiction’. The only issue with the vast amount of cameos is the fact that almost all of these actors retain their original accents, some being American, have thick American accents, whereas others from Britain, have thick English accents. This of course provides a glaring plot hole as we are led to believe that we are somewhere in Eastern Europe. But perhaps this is done merely to add even more quirkiness to Anderson’s delicately crafted world.
Despite this, ‘Grand Budapest’ remains an immensely enjoyable film, filled with grand décor and fantastic performances, a definite must-see for any Wes Anderson regular.