I don’t know much about the technical aspects of movies. I don’t completely understand how movies are even made. I do know this, though: I like weird, I like original, I like passion, I like real characters, I like visual stimuli, and I like unpredictable plots. Because of this, I like Wes Anderson. A lot.
The Grand Budapest Hotel has all of the above qualities. It’s a story within a story within a story, but the third “within a story” is really the core of the film.
I won’t bother trying to explain it other than by saying it’s about a charismatic concierge who finds himself in the mix of a murder mystery. But it’s actually about so much more than just that. Seriously.
Though the movie is pretty typical Wes Anderson, that fact makes it no less lovable. Nobody does Wes Anderson better than Wes Anderson, so I don’t fault him for maintaining a certain status quo. His status quo, by the way, is much more innovative and novel than anyone else in the industry. I think that may be why almost every new Wes Anderson movie becomes my new favorite Wes Anderson movie.
Anderson does dive into some slightly darker material with this film. I think I’ve seen most of his work, and while I wouldn’t describe the movie as violent by any stretch of the imagination, it has a little more edge when it comes to the grotesque than is standard for him.
Also, The Grand Budapest Hotel utilizes far more star power than any of his previous films. Look for appearances by Jude Law, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, and Owen Wilson.
Four people, though stole the show. Ralph Fiennes delivered my favorite performance of all time by the man. His concierge is unlike anything I’ve ever seen from Fiennes, and I’m frankly shocked he could pull of such unique comedy. His character is notorious, tough, flamboyant, dainty, verbose, and charismatic beyond belief. It’s his greatest stretch, and his best work. Totally serious, by the way.
Adriene Brody played sleaze like I’ve never seen from him, either. His part was pretty small, but he owned every scene in which he appeared.
Much like Brody, William Dafoe rocked. I bet Dafoe didn’t have fifty total words in the movie, but he brought an extraordinary level of creepiness to his character through sheer body language and facial expressions.
Of course, I should say that Dafoe and Brody were hilarious nonetheless. Creepy, deplorable, but hilarious.
Finally, Tony Revolori’s “Zero” cannot be resisted. As a young man who takes his role as “lobby boy” deadly serious, I dare anyone to dislike his character. Like Fiennes, Revolori brings an aspect of toughness to his part, but also infuses a magnetic innocence as well.
While the dialogue and visuals are in tune with Anderson techniques, I’d say The Grand Budapest Hotel is unlike his other movies due to a deeply layered plot, lots of movie stars, and probably more action than we’ve seen before. Anderson should not be underestimated as a director (and I don’t think he is). Beyond all the humorous pranks and visual oddities, this man can draw out fantastic performances from his actors.
This is a delightfully weird movie, and that’s why I love it.