Cinéaste 003: The Grand Budapest Hotel

"Rudeness is merely an expression of fear. People fear they won't get what they want. The most dreadful and unattractive person only needs to be loved, and they will open up like a flower."
Title: The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Director: Wes Anderson  
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Léa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson
Synopsis: The Grand Budapest Hotel tells of a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars and his friendship with a young employee who becomes his trusted protégé. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting, the battle for an enormous family fortune and the slow and then sudden upheavals that transformed Europe during the first half of the 20th century.

Given the recent announcement of the Oscar nominations, I though it would be a good idea to talk about a film that lead the race with 9 nominations, as well as being my favourite film of 2014. I am, of course, talking about Wes Anderson's marvellous The Grand Budapest Hotel. If you are familiar with Anderson's previous work, I can assure you that this film is just as good (if not better) than most of his filmography: The Life Aquatic, Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox - it sits comfortably amongst his best.

Whimsical, melancholic, and hilarious, The Grand Budapest Hotel is an absolute delight to watch. Indeed, you'd be hard pressed to find a film as gorgeously put together as this in quite a while. It is shot in the style that has come to be expected in every Wes Anderson film, in that literally everything looks perfect. Every shot, every little detail and every set is flawless. From lead character Gustave H.'s purple jacket to the title of the newspaper announcing the war (The Trans-Alpine Yodel) - Anderson has given thought and attention to everything.

The script is razor-sharp, with dark humour and witty dialogue set against the backdrop of a Nazi-esque group invading Central Europe. Much of the film is quite funny, however there is a prominent dark tone due to the forthcoming war. There are also moment of extreme violence, yet these are shown in Anderson's typical offbeat and comical manner. If you've seen The Royal Tenenbaums, you'll understand what I mean by this.

Ralph Fiennes steals the show as the sophisticated Gustave H. (and was absolutely robbed of his Oscar nomination), who never despairs, even in the most unfavourable circumstances. He is supported by a large number of star actors, who are sometimes almost unrecognisable. This was used to great effect in a scene in which concierges from hotels all over Europe are seen calling each other to help Gustave H. Each of these characters is displayed in their wonderfully whimsical hotels, and each played by one of Wes Anderson's usual actors of choice. It's only a couple of minutes long, but an absolute joy to watch.

At 99 minutes it is not a long film, and the plot moves forward at breakneck speed. The dialogue is fast and witty, and can occasionally be hard to follow when the sets and costumes are demand some much attention themselves. There is much to be gained by a second viewing, if for no other reason than to admire the gorgeous colour palette and visuals. The entire film is just so beautifully put together that every frame could be hung on a wall. Once again, Wes Anderson has made an immaculate film and remains one of the most creative filmmakers working today.

Watch here: iTunes

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