It is not often that major studios push overtly artistic films into the limelight (not in April anyway) and Wes Anderson’s films are so reputable that I’d been eagerly awaiting to see The Grand Budapest Hotel for almost a year. While this latest release is no Fantastic Mr. Fox, it is the most Wes Anderson-like film that Wes Anderson has made yet. It is certainly the most successful, having grossed over $100 million.
Told from the point of view of “lobby boy in training,” Zero (played by newcomer Tony Revoloiri), the plot centers around the 1930s heyday of the titular hotel, a grand institution in a politically unstable Eastern European nation. When one of the wealthy patrons of the hotel mysteriously dies and leaves a priceless painting to M. Gustave, he is framed for her murder and forced to evade the authorities with the aid of the stalwart Zero. The plot passes by in a zany romp through the Hungarian countryside with more delightful twists, turns, and characters than you can stuff into a hotel spa.
Many Anderson regulars make their appearances: Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Edward Norton, to name a few. My favorite was Owen Wilson in an almost insignificant part playing an interim concierge named, of all things, Monsieur Chuck.
Within that depth was a richness of detail, movement, and artistry seldom seen taken to such lengths. Many of the film’s more elaborate sets were miniatures, giving the piece a somewhat storybook quality while maintaining a realness of light, texture and weight. In addition, the longer shots are so well choreographed that it is staggering to consider. In short, it was a gem to behold.
Alas, Budapest is not perfect. The main plot is a story within a story within a book within reality, which can get a little confusing at times. Also, the ending comes rather abruptly with a farce of a shootout in which it is difficult to imagine that our heroes to be in true danger. Small faults aside, I greatly enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel and would gladly see it again. Anyone looking for a quirky, Technicolored, and subtly genius time at the cinema, I would certainly recommend that you see it, too.