Film: The Grand Budapest Hotel – quirky setting, eccentric words yet tragic characters
Wes Anderson remains as quirky, eccentric and funny as ever as he helms a star studded ensemble rife with somewhat distracting cameos through beautifully sculpted and symmetrical landscapes to the fantastic tune of Alexandre Desplat.
Anderson’s work isn’t for everyone. His jokes can often contain one onion layer too many whilst his set pieces can be a bit too magic mushroom for others. But there is no denying that, like Richard Linklater, he has found his niche and found what makes him great as a filmmaker; the ability to tell stories like no other filmmaker.
To Anderson it is not a simple case of chronology, characters and climax. Instead he focuses on stories, relatable characters in fish-out-of-water settings and most importantly, novel-esque story telling. Watching a Wes Anderson movie is a unique experience because the dialogue seems lifted from the pages of a book. In truth, his features seem like live action audiobooks. They are so giddy, witty and posh that one wonders if the ‘right-click and look for synonyms’ feature on Microsoft Word was ever implemented – a feature that I never shrewdly nor callously use in online posts, I might add.
But hidden under the exuberant and colourful imagery and dialogue are real stories and tragic adult characters failing to find their place in the world. Emotional losses are ripped off so fast and so quietly that it unnerves in an otherwise beautiful and immersive world whilst dark comedy is always leering and waiting to pounce from around the corner.
A great deal of such emotion and comedic timing has to be placed at the feet of Ralph Fiennes. One of the great dramatic actors of the modern era dares to be funny and pulls off more laughs than you’ll find in cruder more sexual mainstream comedies like ‘Bad Neighbours’. Under his fast and eloquent whips towards Zero and his average guests/lovers there is an awe of uncertainty and incompletion. It is no surprise that Fiennes chances of an Oscar are being talked about even a whole year after the film’s release. And to think, we could have had Johnny Depp as Monsieur Gustave. How generic and forgettable that could have been I wonder?
The Grand Budapest Hotel may tout the ‘Grand’ prefix but what it really aspires to be is ‘Great’. Don’t let the Lady Gaga visuals deter you from what is a subtly brilliant character piece laced with incredible music and Ralph Fiennes excelling in a heartbreaking comedic role. I mean, come on, have you not been waiting to see Voldermort run his own hotel, sleep with old age ladies and break out of prison?
Score – A-