I often find myself wondering what I was actually doing in 2014 that was so important. After all, I missed out on a handful of great movies that year, with Wes Anderson’s remarkable release of The Grand Budapest Hotel topping the list.
There’s no doubt that Wes Anderson has truly made some great films over the past decade, with the likes of Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom springing to mind. He’s firmly established himself as one of film’s greats, and thankfully The Grand Budapest Hotel only strengthen his esteemed reputation. His immense ability to produce stylistically-spectacular films accompanied by fantastic soundtracks is a rarity amongst directors nowadays and, in turn, distances himself from his fellow filmmakers.
The Grand Budapest Hotel, simply put, is a delightful film. It’s one of those movies that you keep turning to when you’re bored, and is without a doubt a must have for your film collection. But what is most appealing about the film is its astonishing style. Every single frame is like a Mona Lisa (or more appropriately a ‘Boy with Apple’) – beautifully crafted and perfectly thought out. There simply isn’t a moment during its running time that your eyes aren’t rooted to the screen in astonishment, something that Anderson is a master of achieving. His cinematographical use of perfectly symmetrical shots and 180 degree transitions create a swift and fluent viewing, reinforcing its smooth book-like storytelling.
As for the story, it’s rather simple. It tells the tale of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel, and his mischievous adventures with his lobby-boy Zero Moustafa. Without spoiling anything, the guys get themselves in all sorts of trouble. Now, as a whole, the film is hilarious. Its subtle yet effective humorous tone fluently propels the narrative forward, mainly achieved by the language and actions from the ensemble of characters that TGBH provides us with, played by an endless list of remarkable actors. Jude Law, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody and Willem Dafoe are only a handful of the impeccable cast on offer, and they all contribute something unique to the story and helps to allow a delightful viewing for the audience. But the story isn’t just a laugh-fest. Although it’s listed as a comedy on Netflix and other platforms, there’s so much more to it than a few laughs. Despite its aesthetic beauty and comedic tone, there’s also an underlying sadness to the film. Its retrospective telling of a nostalgia-driven story emits a true hint of pathos, a suggestion of true anguish of Zero Moustafa’s recollection from his past adventures. During the present day, however, he’s completely alone, without the presence of Gustave or his former lover, so you just can’t help but feel sorry for the guy.
But who truly steals the show is the wonderful Ralph Fiennes, who’s portrayal of the charismatic Gustave H is nothing short of brilliant. His character itself is extremely complex, and encourages a diverse amount of emotions to be drawn from the audience. At first we love him, with his contrasted use of sophisticated vocabulary and his frequent need to drop the F-bomb having us in stitches; but then we can’t help but also feel he’s a bit of a dick. In the end, I drew the conclusion that he’s just a loveable asshole. That’s the only description I could conjure up.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film also blessed with an extraordinary soundtrack. What needs to be said is that this hotel is completely fictional and sadly doesn’t exist in our world, and in turn, the music truly brings the hotel to life and dictates the film’s mood, with its exotic and mysterious tone ringing through our ears throughout its entirety. You just have to applaud Alexandre Desplat’s remarkable contribution to this eventful film.
It is at this moment in my reviews that I normally discuss any particular flaws that I have with the film…but there simply aren’t any. I’ve watched TGBH countless times and have desperately tried to find something, anything, wrong with the movie. Yeah, there’s a few absurdities here and there, but nothing that cannot be forgiven and overlooked. If anything, these slight absurdities only contribute to the film’s surreal and busy narrative, so addressing those is unnecessary. It is extremely difficult to not enjoy the masterpiece that you are watching. It truly is a delight.
VERDICT: A Masterpiece!
The Grand Budapest Hotel is no doubt one of Wes Anderson’s greatest contributions to film. Its charming use of superb cinematography escorted with brilliant performances from the large ensemble cast undoubtedly make it my favourite film from 2014, and I’d even go as far as saying that it’s one of the most entertaining and visually stunning movies of all time – it’s that good. In the words of Gustave H himself, “It’s a masterpiece. The rest of this shit is worthless junk.”