Firstly, apologies for the lack of content recently, I shall blame it on illness and laziness in equal measure. Secondly, I know right, how can someone writing about films have never seen a Wes Anderson film? It’s pretty bad, but I just never really saw them, it’s that simple. Obviously ‘Isle of Dogs’ is getting a lot of attention at the moment, and I need to go and watch it, I’m very interested now, having recently watched three Wes Anderson films in the last week! But the one I’ll talk about today is probably the most famous – ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. So, I did go into this knowing a little bit about what to expect from an Anderson film: witty dialogue, symmetrical shots, beautiful camera movements and spectacular colour, but it really was a unique film-watching experience: I’ve never seen anything like it.
What I’ve noticed from the Anderson films I’ve now seen is that they’re so dense, there’s so much going on in every shot, and it almost reminded me of ‘Get Out’, simply in the sense that when I rewound and watched things again, I’d notice a new clever detail. Visually, ‘The Grand Budapest’ is just a triumph, words cannot do it justice. The colour, the camerawork, the costume design, everything works together to create a symmetrical, spectacular film. I truly don’t think I’ve ever seen a film so visually interesting. I think what’s most lovely about the colouring is that Anderson rarely uses prime colours; he rarely uses normal colours. Rather than a pink, he uses a rose-like colour, rather than yellow, it’s mustard, etc. He offsets your eyes and creates a quirky, but beautiful picture, which is what this film is. The other thing that I, and many others, love about Anderson’s work is that he only cuts when truly necessary, rather than quick cuts we get long tracking shots and smash-cuts, which I really appreciate. Anderson is, in the best possible way, clearly an incredibly obsessive perfectionist, and it shows. Every frame is meticulously constructed and filled with detail. The music is also beautiful and memorable, rightly winning the Academy Award for Best Original Score.
It says a lot that in a film with Ralph Fiennes, F.Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saorise Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson and Tony Revolori (wow that’s a lot of good actors…), the first thing I mention is the visuals rather than the cast. I do think the visuals and all the ‘extras’ is what makes this film so unique and special, but the cast is really great. Tony Revolori, who I knew from ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ is charming, Jude Law delivers some poignant moments, Saorise Ronan and Jeff Goldblum are great, as is everyone really, but this is definitely Ralph Fiennes’ film. He is hysterical, a throwback to British comedy of old, with shows like ‘Fawlty Towers’ and ‘Blackadder’, which I found hilarious growing up and that type of humour is still brilliant. It’s mad to think that it’s Voldemort, every kid’s nightmare, playing the role of a witty, charming and more than slightly camp hotel concierge. Gustave H is a quite unique character, and not one that I actually expected from an American film. American humour has always been very different to British, and Gustave H is definitely a very British man, and that’s welcome on the big screen. His relationship with Zero is really the focus of the film, despite all the charming smoke and mirrors, and it is a heartwarming one. They begin as a tough boss/willing employee, but they grow into a beautiful mix of father/son and best friends, and Revolori’s chemistry with Fiennes works perfectly. What’s really interesting to me about this film is the comedy. It’s hilarious, and there are numerous laugh-out-loud moments (the one that sticks out to me is Gustave running away in the lobby), but it’s just interesting that both main characters seem to almost take on the role of the straight man. In comedy, when there’s a relationship between two people, one is generally loud, and the other is straight-faced, think Kevin Hart and Ice Cube. But in this, because of Anderson’s style, the dialogue is delivered in such a deadpan way that basically every actor is the straight man, and that works perfectly for me. There’s no frills on the comedy, it relies on sharp camerawork and perfect comedic timing.
I read on YouTube someone say that Wes Anderson’s films are “good films for people who know nothing about film” and I thought that was interesting. I see the argument, it’s a clever film that’s easily digestible and somewhat philosophical. But I’d argue, isn’t that the whole point of a film…? We shouldn’t need notepads and analysis to enjoy and appreciate something, it should be there for us to see on the screen. With ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, Anderson is like a peacock, parading his genius to us onscreen with every medium that film offers. It’s not pretentious, and it’s not shallow, it’s just right. Just like a cake from Mendl’s bakery, it’s perfectly cooked and delicious. Another thing that stuck out for me is that actually, for a really funny film, it’s actually quite heartbreaking. I do like the way we just gloss over Gustave and Agatha’s death, and they manage that with some level of comedy, but watching an old Zero go up to his old, tiny room at the top of the hotel, it’s hard to know whether we’re watching an old man accepting his loneliness and enjoying the memories, or if we’re seeing a lonely man who didn’t get nearly enough time with the people he loved. I don’t know whether we’re meant to feel hopeful or pitiful, I guess that’s the point.
P.S Lucas Hedges is in this film. That man must have the highest average Rotten Tomatoes score ever…
P.S2 If you want my thoughts on any films or any directors or actors or anything you want me to write about, comment it or email me and I’ll do it!
Best scene: The first train journey
Best character: Gustave H
Best actor/actress: Tony Revolori
Best quote: “There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity… He was one of them. What more is there to say?” – Zero