Wes Anderson is one of my favorite directors working today. With sleeper hits such as Rushmore (1998), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), and Moonrise Kingdom (2012), he’s become one of the few truly commercial independent directors. His films have launched the careers of Luke Wilson, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman. With beautiful cinematography and clever screenplays, he’s able to lure high-profile actors to play bit roles. The Grand Budapest Hotel is no exception. In fact, it’s likely his most ambitious film to date. Jumping through three time periods, the film’s ensemble cast includes: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Léa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, and Bob Balaban.
The story revolves around legendary concierge Gustave H (Fiennes), and his lobby boy, Zero (Revolori). After Gustave’s lover Madame D (Swinton) dies, he is bequeathed with a priceless Renaissance painting, “Boy With Apple”. However, Madame D’s son, Dmitri (Brody), doesn’t want Gustave to receive anything from his late mother, so Gustave and Zero steal the painting.
Like all other Wes Anderson films, the cinematography is absolutely gorgeous. Nearly any frame from the film could be spliced and created into a painting. A vast majority of the film is shot with a wide-angle lense, allowing for everything to be in focus at the same time. Switching through three different time periods, the brilliant choice is made to change the aspect ratio, which may seem like a subtle detail, but it makes a world of difference.
However, what makes the film really work is the juxtaposition between its classy style and it’s sophomoric sense of humor. The combination of the two can only be described as “quirky”. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a screwball comedy at heart, and it’s one of Anderson’s finest, with instantly quotable dialogue and wonderful gags.
The cast of the film help take it to the next level. Ralph Fiennes gives an iconic performance, one of the best in his career. As far as child actors go, Tony Revolori is fantastic. He holds his own, which is quite an accomplishment given his co-stars. Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, and Jeff Goldblum are the highlights from the ensemble, masterfully portraying their intentionally one-dimensional characters, and stealing every scene they’re in.
The Grand Budapest Hotel isn’t asking to be taken seriously. The plot is so absurd that it’s making fun of itself. It’s the classiest campy film you’ll ever see though. I think it’s my favorite of Wes Anderson’s catalogue, and I anticipate seeing it many times in the future. 10/10.