Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Idiosyncratic BrillianceI think we can all agree that Wes Anderson’s films are, of themselves, their own genre. Comedy, drama, crime, adventure. These are all genres one could label The Grand Budapest Hotel, but I think simply saying “It’s a Wes Anderson film”, sums it up quite well.
Ralph Fiennes plays Monsieur Gustave H., the oddball concierge of the Hotel. When he is not busy running the hotel or mingling with the wealthy clientele that stay there, he seduces, succours and quite often has sex with older women that stay at the hotel. And when I say old, I mean old. When a certain lobby boy is shocked by the knowledge that Gustave has been bumping uglies with a now-deceased clientele (who was 84), Gustave insouciantly states: “I’ve had older.”
The certain lobby boy in question is Zero Moustafa, played by Tony Revolori. Revolori is somewhat a newcomer to the film industry; the only film of note he has been a part of is 2009′s ‘The Perfect Game’, in which he only had a minor role. But he moulds into Anderson’s unconventional universe with ease. His face never seemingly changing expression (not once in the movie do I recall seeing him smile), he plays the role of an awkward, maladroit character with radiating confidence; the chemistry between himself and Fiennes is seamless. The two characters, who couldn’t be any more distinctive, are played with such authenticity we can believe that have been friends for years.
The film follows these two delightful chaps as they jump from escapade to escapade. They steal paintings, are involved in gunfights and sled chases and one help’s the other escape from prison. It’s a joyous ride of whimsical storytelling and visual mastery. Nobody has ever been in more control of their craft than Wes Anderson.
Hotel is filled to the brim with A-list celebrity stars. Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray and Edward Norton, just to name a few. This plethora of on-screen talent never makes the film feel overstuffed or confusing. Each actor playing their character with quiet, unstated suave; making the vernacular of 1932 Zubrowka (a place that doesn’t exist of course), feel genuine and relatable.
One thing I could never comprehend is the ingenious writing skills of Wes Anderson. The way he so effortlessly constructs an imaginary world of quirky characters, and a visual experience so resplendent and idiosyncratic that I wonder how he can even function in this bland, banal world that the rest of us inhabit. The way he can bring to life these characters that are so incogitable and far-fetched, and make them so empathetic and relatable is something I will never understand. It’s 99 minutes of pure epistolary ecstasy. But I ask you to not expect anything from this movie once the lights come on. You will be disappointed if you do. There is no ideological bias, no life-changing intimations to be gained. The atypical individualism may tempt you to do so, but this is just entertainment. A fluffy, sweet, delectable piece of cinema that should appeal to the most discerning palate. It’s just a comedy movie, and a damn good one at that.