Full disclosure: I am Wes Anderson’s twin sister, and thus, incapable of impartial movie reviews.
Fuller disclosure: That was a bold lie. I’m just an uber-fan, but upon reflection I don’t want to accuse myself of impartiality. Yes, I love his movies fervently, I wish to live in them, but my esteem is earned. Wes Anderson never takes a night off. He earns it every time.
I was going to watch something new, and maybe I was going to like it, but this little delicacy presented itself as an alternative, and therefore it was the only alternative.
Wes Anderson introduces us to Gustave H, a legendary and well-perfumed concierge at the famous Grand Budapest Hotel, and Zero Moustafa, the humble lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft (and recovery) of an invaluable painting and the battle over a will and a vast family fortune.
Immediately Anderson’s aesthetic draws you into this world, the colour palette is sumptuous and alive, and it’s like stepping into someone’s well-appointed dream. As always, the details are meticulously executed: the hotel’s shabbiness, the gritty grout, the choice of fonts, the embroidery, the mustaches, both real and drawn-on, the crest worn by Edward Norton and his army men of a little fox head greatly resembling a certain Fantastic Mr. Fox.
The movie is shot with three different aspect rations to help the audience differentiate between the time periods. The adventure is rapid-fire and the dialogue is virtually spat out. In fact, the rapid gunfire of dialogue is a problem when viewing the movie in a theatre: the laughs are so close together it’s sometimes hard to hear whatever comes next.
The characteres are vividly drawn and always so much fun to get to know – in this case, Ralph Fiennes plays a character playing a character who makes pretension feel absolutely charming. Tilda Swinton makes a grand dame indeed in her voluminous old age spots, old lady lipstick, and ridiculously piled hair. There are actually so many stars jam-packed into this movie that I’ll never be able to name-check them all. The enjoyable thing is that these cameos rarely (if ever) feel forced, instead it’s intoxicating and energizing.
It’s a caper-y type film and the plot covers a lot more ground than most of Wes Anderson’s films. But the crime is nestled within a sumptuous frame work and the whole film eats like one of Mendl’s delicious little cakes that are turned our so perfectly that Saoirise Ronan, who plays Agatha, said that making those little pastries convincingly was by far the hardest stunt she’s performed in any movie.
I’d like to say that this is possibly Wes Anderson’s best movie to date, but I feel that such an assertion would be a betray of sorts, like choosing my favourite among my dogs (which reminds me – great little Anderson in-joke moment: after killing a dog in nearly every other movie, Anderson finally sticks it to a cat in a manner so abrupt and cruel it can’t help but get a big, suprised laugh). It’s hard to find a movie that’s this entertaining, this varied and layered, and even if you watch it as a George Clooney edition of Where’s Waldo, you can’t go wrong.
Stay tuned for more Wes Anderson reviews – I won’t be able to resist.
I love Wes Anderson! I agree this is one of his best but to me Rushmore will always be the one to beat. I absolutely admit that Grand Budapest is better technically and artistically and probably every other way you could evaluate it, but Rushmore has the bizarre and amazing duo of Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman, and I don’t know how you ever beat that.
😀 I like the way you review the movie. I haven’t watched it though, I am planning to watch it this weekend on relax evening at home. Now I am looking forward to it! Thanks!
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I hope you enjoy it, Indah.
Sean, as you know, I agree that this movie has it all, but the Wes Anderson that’s nearest and dearest to MY heart is Life Aquatic. Can’t wait to talk about that one!
I have to watch this movie ASAP. It’s next on my non existent list of movies to watch.
Don’t tell me you’ve never seen it!
I haven’t! I started watching it a few months back, around the time I lost all the movies on my computer and I haven’t gotten around to finishing it. I was about 10 minutes in so I haven’t seen much of it. I promise to watch it soon. Promise!
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