It’s almost unfair for me to review Wes Anderson’s 8th installment for various reasons: Firstly, I am unashamedly an Anderson fanboy and have been since Day 1. While others my age were watching Tarantino reinvent popular culture with a shotgun, I was basking in the precision and romanticism of Anderson’s dollhouse approach. He also had Bill Murray on his side. Secondly, many, including myself, have ran out of superlatives to describe his body of work. Particularly after his previous gift in 2012 with Moonrise Kingdom which by all accounts was nearly flawless.
From the off, I should say that Grand Budapest Hotel does not top spontaneity and innocence of Moonrise Kingdom. But that’s not to say it isn’t entertaining, adventurous or so very very Wes Anderson. It’s probably his most daring picture to date with an attempt to tell the story of the beautiful purple edifice of the Grand Budapest Hotel through three narrators in different time periods.
The film begins with Tom Wilkinson playing an author speaking in 1985 about an encounter he had in 1968 (now played by Jude Law) with Mr Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), owner of the Grand Budapest, where he shared his tales of the hotel’s heyday in 1932. Moustafa, known back then as Zero (played by newcomer Tony Revolori), was a lobby boy taken under the wing of eccentric and desirable to the elder female M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes).
Just like Agatha’s (Saoirse Ronan) cakes, the pictures are as delicate and as colourful as you would expect; the tracking shots are as long as and smooth as ever and the fonts are as expensive as always. There are set-pieces aplenty and the off-beat gags keep coming. The difference here is it’s look at the nature of history and the sadness in nostalgia. You can feel the ‘what you should have been’ in Abrahams eyes as he tucks into an over-done steak with the backdrop of the Budapest dining room – which now feels like the Premier Inn by the M6 junction at Wednesbury.
Regulars to the Anderson Arms drop in with appearances from Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody and Owen Wilson. But Fiennes is the star here. He is perfect. His note-perfect dry wit and chirpy profanity keep the film from ever truly straying into pure farce. He looks as if he’s having the most fun he’s ever had on set and will almost certainly be turning his hand at comedy more.
If you find Anderson pretentious, fussy and quirky (in the bad sense) then this will not covert you. But if, like me, you see the sum of it’s parts and enjoy shapes and colours, Grand Budapest Hotel won’t disappoint.
Average Joes Grand Budapest Hotel Review: 4 stars