Film Title: The Grand Budapest Hotel
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Saoirse Ronan, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton
Director: Wes Anderson
Imagine a peppermint rolling in your mouth, producing in you a tempest of varied but wonderful emotions. If you can imagine that, you don't have to see Wes Anderson's latest movie. But if you can't or would like to experience that moment over and over again, you should see it immediately.
The Grand Budapest Hotel will always remain infinitely more complex, textured and fun to watch than to describe in an article. It's a very Anderson film, with a lot of arthouse pop style, aggressively zany tone and imagery to drool over. As such the film defies genre categorisation, but it's got slapstick, dry humour, action, horror, murder, even a heist along with a melancholic bittersweet romance at the centre — it's successful on all of these levels, and pretty much affirms that it's a modern classic.
Anderson is at the peak of his powers at the moment and in making The Grand Budapest Hotel he takes every single thing that he's learned with his previous films and applies it to full bloom. The storytelling is reminiscent of Inception with its Russian Doll style presentation. The narrative jumps from the author of a book (Tom Wilkinson) in 1985 ruminating about his time in the hotel in 1968 (his younger self is played by Jude Law), onto the story of Moustafa (F Murray Abraham) who juts back to 1932 when he worked as a boy. Soon enough the stories of young Moustafa and his friend (Ralph Feinnes) kicks in and the narrative finally settles down.
For some the film may seem too fractured because it unfolds as a series of vignettes, but the deliberate convolution is even made fun of by Anderson. What gives the film coherence is the subtle sense of melancholy embedded within the aesthetic madness.
Moreover, a Wes Anderson movie is seldom about the plot than it is about the character development and dynamics. And it's amazing to see dozens of your favourite actors popping in and out of the film for significant roles, best of which is Adrien Brody as a ruthless and wannabe heir named Dimitri. Not to mention Jeff Goldblum making a terrific return as a lawyer, the young Saoirse Ronan as a pastry chef and Harvey Keitel as a crazy prisoner. Anderson regulars Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman and Owen Wilson also cameo as does Willem Dafoe who is hilarious as a baddie flaunting boots and Dracula teeth. Ralph Fiennes appears in perhaps his best, most memorable role since Schindler's List with a deeply touching performance.
The visuals will blow you away with their ornate intricate design, but they're softly toned rather than loud. The hotel itself is a living, breathing entity rather than a mere set piece — it looks like a giant bakery item and is pretty incredible, to say the least. There are so many imaginative elements within the confines of the hotel that you could take some of them and create spinoffs of some kind. Alexandre Desplat's music maintains a bizarrely playful tone as the film sprints from one unpredictable subplot to another. It's hard to pinpoint the film's influences, but it's easy to see that it remains remarkable and distinctly Wes
Anderson in flavour. It's funny, it's fascinating, it's unique, but most importantly, it's also a lovely nod to the one aspect that draws disparate humans together — art.