The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – Film Review

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Wes Anderson delivers a visual treat with his latest effort. Anderson, recognised for his distinct and quirky visual aesthetic, triumphantly returns after a secret romance between a scout boy and a school girl of ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ (2011) to deliver a Wes Anderson experience his fans appreciate, and more.

The Grand Budapest Hotel resides on a mountainside in the fictional city of Zubrowka, inspired by Eastern European culture, at its peak, the establishment  boasted extravagant decor and highly distinguishable guests. The film jumps back and forth from various time periods from the peak of the establishment in the late 1930s – at a time of threat from war to the later dormant state of its downfall in the 1960s.

The film begins as a character referred to as ‘Author’ (Tom Wilkinson) recounts the time to when he visits the Grand Budapest in the 1960s as a young writer, as the hotel is at a dormant state, possessing less than impressive decor  and close to none guests, questions the current owner ‘Mr Moustafa’ – later revealed as former bellboy ‘Zero’ as to how he acquired the establishment. Following on, the film portrays the experiences of bellboy ‘Zero’ (Tony Revolori) and concierge ‘Monsieur Gustave’ (Ralph Fiennes) as news reaches the hotel that a distinguished guest ‘Madame D’ (Tilda Swinton) was found dead, leading to the accusation and arrest of concierge Monsieur Gustave H.  Due to the fact Madame D. and Monsieur Gustave were romantically involved – which was the case for all the older female guests that resided at the hotel, they later discover in her will that Madame D. has passed down a priceless artefact named ‘Boy With Apple’ to Monsieur Gustave, leaving the family outraged. As they embark on a mission to discretely acquire and store the painting, Monsieur Gustave is arrested on false accusations for the murder of Madame D. As a result, the film transcends into an adventure of an ongoing sequences from Monsieur Gustave’s prison escape to the ski-chase sequence involving hired assassin J.G. Jopling (Willem Dafoe) to an elaborate gun shootout involving Madame D.’s son  ‘Dmitri’ (Adrien Brody) to name a few. Meanwhile, the plot dabbles on the romance between Zero and young baker Agatha (Saoirse Ronan) as a feature into the already multi-layered narrative.

Anderson’s visual aesthetic remains prevalent in ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’, such as the use of panning shots and the continual practice of placing character centric to the frame, as well as following a similar colour scheme throughout the film – reds, pinks, purples in this case. Wes Anderson fans will enjoy appearances by actors featured in most of his films such as Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman. An intriguing aspect that is heavily featured in this film in comparison to his other works is the use of profanity and violence, Fiennes lines often included innuendos and explicit uses of profanity, and with his excellent delivery, comedic moments are especially enhanced. The use of profanity is not as prominent in Anderson’s earlier works however, it could be an example of a during the comedic moments throughout the film. In addition to the recurring gags involving mild violence, at one point in the film, ‘Deputy Kovacks’ (Jeff Goldblum) fingers get cut off by a closing door leaving the audience and myself squirmish and shocked. Perhaps it’s a convention in Hollywood action blockbusters but it was definitely eyebrow raising for indie-cinema favourite Wes Anderson. I thoroughly enjoyed scenes involving visual gags, Anderson’s use of intertitles is a favourite aspect of mine and it is used as a means of dividing parts of Zero’s life experiences into ‘chapters’. In my opinion, this may not be Anderson’s greatest work however, it could be due to the overtly darker storyline, in the overarching sense of things.

Anderson continues to provide a humorous, witty and immersive representation of a world where an individual can have such a large influence on those around them. Audiences will enjoy the visual aesthetic Anderson is known for and also bringing slightly mature topics and themes less prevalent in his earlier works. A cat does fall out of a window, you have been warned.

IMDB Rating: 8.4/10

My rating: 8/10

Wafiq Airudin

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