26 July-2014, Bryan Durham:
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Jude Law, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Tilda Swinton
Hollywood movie review: The Grand Budapest Hotel
What’s it about:
Several stories woven into a collective, at its core, The Grand Budapest Hotel is about a legendary concierge and a lowly lobby boy forging a friendship that lasts. You can also expect great beauty, a murder, much intrigue, a charmingly disarming narrative, simplicity that stupefies, and an out-of-time-ness that captivates you.
Wes Anderson doesn’t stray from his signature style. It is something of a gift that Wes is able to repeat actors (practically half the cast and special appearances) and yet extract singularly superlative performances from them in the brief time that they inhabit the screen. Above all, this young auteur is a master of technique and it shows in the brevity, the preciseness and the economy he endows on each frame. You cannot but marvel at how he plays out each scene. How frivolous, how whimsical, how real and how sad, each moment can seem at the same time. Of course, that’s not to discount the contribution of Ralph Fiennes to this piece. As Monsieur Gustave H, the concierge at the heart of the matter (he’s accused of the murder of a filthy-rich old woman who he courted… and slept with), Fiennes is truly a tour-de-force. A sophisticated man of poetry at his best, he is not beneath the choicest expletive at his worst.
The trouble with much of Wes’s work is that there are far too many hidden gems you miss out in a single screening. You need repeat viewings and pause/play options to truly enjoy and savour what he throws at you. Also, one is never told who the murderer is and that is irritating, given how much screen-time is devoted to that plotline. And if you’re looking at this as a buddy flick, it’s hard to fathom how the two main characters became so close in so fleeting a time.
What to do:
Despite the hows and whys a Wes Anderson film will inevitably fling in your general direction, you do tend to overlook these things. Why? Because as human (flaws and all) as it is, it is also quite fantastical. And you do want to be transported to a time or place like that. If even for a little under two hours. Go for it!