Truth be told, while I love Wes Anderson’s films, he burned me out with his last picture, acclaimed Moonrise Kingdom. It did absolutely nothing for me, feeling more like a replica of his brand than something he, himself, had produced. For that, I feared The Grand Budapest Hotel, avoiding trailers and advertisements entirely. Luckily, Anderson’s latest film is the opposite of Moonrise – it has likeable characters, a great screenplay and a plot right out of an oddball comedy from the ’60s. While still containing trademark Anderson-isms, it’s completely refreshing.
The Grand Budapest Hotel features a story within a within a story within a story within a story – each with its own cinematic aspect ratio. While the concept may sound just as complex as Inception, it’s not complex in the slightest. In fact, it’s simplistic, which allows it to be pure, comprehensible and easy to fall in love with. The outer layers of the story are really only found within the films intro and wrap-up.
The main story belongs to Zero Mustafa, an old man recounting his job as the lobby boy in the once-prestigious Grand Budapest Hotel. The story of his misadventures with concierge (Ralph Fiennes) are recounted. There’s love, sex, murder, police, a heist, a caper, a chase, an escape, rendezvouses, betrayal, mystery and friendship. It’s purely well-rounded, refined and polished, and absolutely unpredictable – all the while remaining constantly full of hilariously dry comedy. I recommend going in knowing as little as possible, as it made my first viewing completely free of judgement.
My faith has been restored in Wes Anderson. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a fantastic film that, while undeniably full of his trademark style, is quite unlike anything that he has written or directed before. Not that his past films weren’t – it’s charming, fun, exciting and absolutely memorable.
(Photo credit: Fox Searchlight)