Review: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
The Dallas-Fort Worth critics gathered together for a matinee screening of “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” as the room filled each critic had polarizing expressions, some faces glimmered with smiles, while others were grimacing. The lights dimmed and the score by Alexandre Desplat serenaded the auditorium for what was the beginning of 100 minutes into the locked room that is Wes Anderson’s mind. It’s these types of films that bring creative minds together, whether they are lauded or disparaged by the work.
Anderson’s films are like an elegant soiree laced with lavish props,perfect diction and all the trappings that are associated with bourgeois lifestyle. His practiced style is incomparable to any other modern auteur. The Texas-native has not been without his critics, many denouncing his filmography claiming it to be hollow, and that he sacrifices substance for style. His latest, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a return to the balancing act of dark drama and absurdist humor. His trades in the whimsicality of “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Moonrise Kingdom, for a bold and at times stark tale of morality and redemption.
The year is 1932 and M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) is the proud concierge of the titular hotel that is in the midst of it’s glory days. Gustave is devoted to his profession of waiting on the privileged clientele and managing the hotel staff down to each minute detail, but what really tickles his fancy is courting the aging, blonde, wealthy women who appreciate his “impeccable service.” Now, Anderson is no stranger to critiquing aristocratic lifestyles his is films, but this time in stead of the dryly poking fun at their debauched ideologies, he outright lampoons their sensibilities, which makes for his funniest and most “Anderson-y” film to date.
Fiennes disappears the character of Gustave, who boasts his arrogance and self-worth to his protege’ a young lobby boy named Zero, played by unknown, Tony Revolori) the two forge an uneasy, but sustainable bond linked by their miraculous surroundings at the Budapest. Revolori holds his own in the role, delivering Anderson’s peculiar dialogue with the proper cadence to draw laughs and and crafts a proper performance. He draws comparison to another young man named Jason Schwartzman who was introduced to filmgoers in Anderson’s 1998 film “Rushmore,” but he divorces himself from that collation and stands alone on his own island.
Anderson has been esteemed for his set-designs, but none have rivaled the details and pure vibrancy of this film. He truly broadens the scope in every aspect imaginable. Which is somewhat amusing considering he dialed down the aspect ratio for the meat of this film which jumps from a gorgeous 2.35 (anamorphic widescreen) to a sustained, yet astounding 1.33 (full frame). I bring this up because these changing views separate the grand (no pun intended) arena of the fictional country of “Zubrowka” into different timelines that blend together seamlessly and also brings further truth to Anderson’s affinity for nostalgia, which suggests that these were simpler times based of the picture-book motif of the film.
When Gustave is suspected of the murder of the old, blonde, wealthy tenant of the Budapest, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton) it is up to the well-assured lobby boy to clear Gustave’s name and restore the prestige that is associated with the famed hotel.
Anderson keenly turns what was a movie about a friendship, into a famously funny whodunit. All the characters in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” are the refined type__ they enjoy the finer things, speak in a manner that is only seen on “Downton Abbey.” The film keeps a straight face for the majority of it’s deadpan style. But, in the scene of Madame D.’s will reading a darkly clad Adrian Brody (in a show-stealing supporting performance) stand up and yells at Gustave, “You candy ass FA****!” It is both wildly offensive and hilarious but most importantly it proves that Anderson doesn’t take himself all too seriously. In between his references to impressionistic art, he still has a small penchant for broad humor; which he has yet to fully explore.
This is the most mature comedy Anderson has released to date. The dialogue is typical “Anderson-y,” but it’s just more refined. He also has a better grasp on balancing the dark themes that are presented in the film. This tactic worked in the 2001 Oscar nominated film “The Royal Tenenbaums,” but the balance was still a little shaggy which profoundly shows upon the film’s aging. All of Anderson’s regular players check into “The Grand Budapest Hotel” ; the not-so boyish Schwartzman, the iconic Billy Murray and a decrepit looking Tilda Swinton make their mark on the film even though the screen time was cut short for the sake of brevity.
In summation, and out of high regard for the caper that is “The Grand Budapest Hotel” it would be a crime against this near masterwork to divulge any more detail regarding the film. Anyhow, there are plenty of treats for fans, as for those who simply don’t care for Anderson’s supposed pretension I dare you make the bold decision and see this one for yourself.