UK Release: March 7th 2014
Wes Anderson’s ‘THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL’ is arguably his biggest cast he has ever had (and arguably one of the biggest of this year). Featuring mostly many alumni from his past films, the cast is headlined by Ralph Fiennes (here losing his Anderson virginity). In here, there is also Jude Law, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, Adrian Brody, Willem Defoe, Lea Seydoux, Jeff Goldblum, Mathieu Amalric, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Tom Wilkinson, Jason Schwartzman and Tilda Swinton (unrecognisable here).
The thing which I have always found amusing with Wes Anderson’s work is the fact that he is a big cult director but all his films are whimsy capers which are primarily comedies. And this is the case here has well. To me ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ was a misstep for Anderson. Not that I didn’t like it, I felt the humour was a lot broader for audiences then his usual niche comedy. I can happily report this isn’t the case here. Evoking memories of ‘The Royal Tenenbaums’, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is a vast film set of in three time periods. Each time period is represented with different a different aspect radio (something which Fox Searchlight sent to cinemas a letter about how to correctly project this film). This strangely works as the film is (as you would expect) a film which does need you attention to watch, however it is deserving of your attention as what Anderson has built here is something which is very funny indeed. Evoking his love of the Marx Brothers, French cinema (with the whole paintings and design of the buildings in establishing shots), and silent cinema (Willem Defoe villain comes to mind here), hear is world which Anderson fully understands. This love to tell this story also means he gives the film approachability so audience can enjoy this and learn to appreciate these visual and tone sensibilities. Anderson also has understanding of his characters in this then say ‘Moonrise Kingdom’. Ralph Fiennes (bloody fantastic here) evokes the energy of Peter Sellers, and does everything you need a character that is a charismatic leader, needs to do.
Critics of Anderson will hate it, the typical criticism of tiredness in the films pacing can be made here, but I believe Anderson has built something which out of his live action films could be more universally adored very much like ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’. Generally speaking, Anderson has crafty something with great skill, appreciation and understanding. A pleasant watch and something which could end up on a lot of critics top ten lists at the end of the year.