Directed by Wes Anderson
You see there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed, that’s what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant… ah fuck it.
You don’t really laugh at Wes Anderson’s films, do you? You smile (constantly) and you chuckle (occasionally), but you don’t laugh. The man is too quirky to make you laugh – even if he did come close this time. Not since Alec Baldwin’s classic scene in Glengarry Glen Ross have I heard ‘fucking faggot’ said with such gusto and style. Adrien Brody had me there. In fact, this film features some of the most hilarious swearing I’ve heard in a while. Because no one can do it quite like a guy who gave us Moonrise Kingdom and Fantastic Mr. Fox
Obviously enough, The Grand Budapest Hotel looks exactly like a Wes Anderson film. That disarming, cutesy-witty style of his, preserved in its ideal state down to every last word and wrinkle. And every time you think: but it shouldn’t work, those mannerisms, that suffocating dollhouse perfection. And every time his masterful execution just wins you over. You accept his rules, you have no choice.
The cast is breathtaking. Usual suspects (including, yes, Bill Murray) mixed with new blood (Jude Law, Ralph Fiennes, Mathieu Amalric, others). But while the acting is always impeccable (Fiennes in particular is a portrait of solemn hilarity), you always get the feeling that these are no more than talented puppets, beautiful animated dolls in a Wes Anderson show. And I mean that in the best possible sense.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is like a weirded-out adventure story for children. The usual, then. From shot one, Anderson places you into his world, and this time it is a fictional country called Zubrowka. Eastern Europe, by the looks of it. Gustave H (funny, kind, generous, odd), a concierge of one truly striking and singular hotel, is framed for murder and is on the run. Lots of cute characters and whimsical sequences along the way, nothing you would for a moment mistake for reality. Most of the story takes place in the 1930’s, and you will be aware that some bad stuff is going on outside, but the Nazis are a Mickey Mouse organization and even the prison view is basically a postcard from Amsterdam.
Allegorical statements don’t really fit into a Wes Anderson world, so instead enjoy it as a unique spectacle. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a genuine tale of kindness for insecure adults with a strong sense of self-irony and taste.