Wes Anderson is known for his quirky, charming and unique style of writing and film making, and his last film ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ was a wonderful example of that. His latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is in the same vein. Inspired by the writings of Austrian author Stefan Zweig, who is lesser known now but was hugely respected in the 1920’s and 1930’s, the film revolves around a picturesque hotel and the quirky characters within it.
When a writer (played by Jude Law) takes an interest in a lonely man at The Grand Budapest Hotel, the man befriends him and relays to him a story of how he, as lobby boy of the hotel was taken in as an assistant to the beloved concierge named Gustave (Ralph Fiennes). However, when an elderly female guest dies and leaves valuable parts of her estate to Gustave, a bizarre and murderous adventure unfolds with a host of incredible characters.
Wes Anderson really pulled out all the stops with this one. He’s got a knack for casting a fabulous group, even when many of the A-Listers get minimal screen time. Something about his screenplays just attracts people and makes them want to be a part of his work. I imagine it is the distinct nature of each of his characters, as well as the fun one must have playing them. The acting in The Grand Budapest Hotel is absolutely wonderful. From Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori’s incredible chemistry as Gustave and Zero to the wonderful turns from Jude Law, Bill Murray, F. Murray Abraham and Jeff Goldblum.
This is what is so great about Grand Budapest. It’s characters just draw you into the film and you are glued to them and all of their unique quirks. Ralph Fiennes is incredible, and goes from endearingly obnoxious to absolutely hilarious with ease. The villains are truly easy to hate, despite the light hearted tone of the film, with Adrien Brody doing great work and Willem Dafoe putting in an absolutely insane performance as weird as I’ve seen from him (which is saying something). He must of had a lot of fun with it.
The setting is typical Anderson. Most of the backdrops are simply toys and hand built models. He makes no attempt to hide this, and it gives his films a unique look. His films aren’t about special effects, they’re about the characters and the story. The unique look of his films are the medium he uses to best put the viewer in the frame of mind he wants them in, to tell a charming and poignant tale, like he has so many times, and like he has done again here.
The material here is actually a little bit darker than you might expect. There’s murder (at times quite abrupt and vicious!) and suspense, both of which are done quite effectively. That’s something that wasn’t really present as much in Moonrise Kingdom, but it worked really well, and was still put forth with the same charm as the lighter moments. It gave the story a sense of unpredictability that was greater than I had expected, and it also added to our concern and interest in the characters and the story.
It’s really hard to actually put a finger on exactly what I loved the most about The Grand Budapest Hotel. I’ve talked about the acting, the writing, the setting and the plot. But there’s just this feeling of nostalgic sadness that you get from it. The kind that is actually happy sadness. The film made me feel the way I do when I think about my late grandparents. Then at times there were moments that made you crack a huge smile, the kind that you don’t really notice you’re doing until it’s too late. Wes Anderson’s ability to create this amazes me.
Wes Anderson’s latest film was highly anticipated, and with such a cast it was expected to be brilliant. I can say that it was nothing short of exactly that. It was a charming, funny, poignant and nostalgic homage to writing, storytelling, friendship and love, which took us through the whole range of emotions. Overall, I think The Grand Budapest Hotel stands alone as Wes Anderson’s greatest film.