Wes Anderson returns with his best film since Rushmore
The Grand Budapest Hotel tells the story of M.Gustave’s (Ralph Fiennes) legendary rise to fame and fortune. After the sudden death of Madame D (Tilda Swinton), Gustave and his lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) travel to Madame D’s estate for the reading of her last will and testament. Once they arrive, Gustave is informed that he will bestow the famous painting known as “The Boy With Apple.” This announcement causes Dmitri (Adrien Brody) and Jopling (Willem Dafoe) to question the death of Madame D and whether or not M. Gustave is involved. This accusation begins a case of whodunit leaves Gustave and Zero avoiding the law until they can clear their names of Madame D’s untimely death.
Needless to say, Wes Anderson is a director that people either “get” and “love” or a director that people despise and don’t understand how anyone can label his work as “brilliant.” There seems like there is no in-between with his films. Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with either option because lets be honest everyone has their own taste. I will say, however, that if you aren’t a fan of Wes Anderson’s previous films than this isn’t going to be the one to win you over and make you a fan.
From the very first time I saw Rushmore back in 1998, I knew Wes Anderson was a director that would never acquire mass appeal. The characters in a Wes Anderson film are all quirky and extremely weird. The stories are all unique, but ultimately bizarre and filled with random moments. Basically what I am saying is Wes Anderson is a niche market director that appeals to a specific type of film lover and I for one simply adore the man’s creative vision.
Since 1998, I have watched every single Wes Anderson film and even went back and purchased his first film, Bottle Rocket. Over the past couple of years, I noticed that Anderson has become extremely popular with the critics and die hard film fanatics. I have enjoyed every film the man has ever released, but will admit none of them ever lived up to the awesomeness that was Rushmore. Well, today I am happy to announce that I have finally found my second favorite Wes Anderson film of all time and that film is The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The Grand Budapest Hotel feels like Wes Anderson wanted to remake the film Clue and put his own unique spin on it. It is a whodunit comedy but just like all his previous films, it is definitely not for everyone. The film is his most bizarre outing to date and is loaded with characters that are even more “out there” than his previous films. There are so many random scenes in The Grand Budapest Hotel that I would consider oddly brilliant, but at the same time made me wonder, “what the hell was Anderson smoking when he came up with this scene?” I don’t want to spoil any of these scenes for those die hard fans, but there is one particular scene involving skiing and a sled. This scene standout because it is so random yet hilarious. The Grand Budapest Hotel definitely has its fair share of WTF moments that I think exceed his previous efforts.
Out of all the things I enjoy about a Wes Anderson, I think the most enjoyable element of all is his casting choices. For the first time ever, Ralph Fiennes joins a host of Wes Anderson regulars. Fiennes is absolutely brilliant as Gustave and completely different from any role he has played in the past. Gustave is portrayed in a way that is likable, but is definitely isn’t a good guy. He is more like an antihero, if anything at all. What makes Gustave even stranger is that he is not a very masculine man, which adds to the fun especially when he interacts with Jopling and Dmitri.
Also new to the Wes Anderson world is Saoirse Ronan who plays Zero’s love interest, Agatha. Just like Fiennes, it was nice to see Ronan in a film that was different than her previous work. This film really showcased Ronan’s range as an actress. It was great to finally hear Ronan’s natural Irish accent in a film for once. While Agatha wasn’t the biggest player in the film, she was important in terms of moving the story along and served as an important story element. I loved the whole side story that involving the bakery she worked in as well as the hilarious interactions with her overprotected father.
There are a few other newbies to the whacky world of Wes Anderson including Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, and Léa Seydoux. Even though their roles were smaller than most, Wilkinson and Seydoux played odd enough characters that you remember them. Wilkinson played the author of the book which the story being told is based on and Seydoux plays a maid. Law was probably the only character who really wasn’t all that memorable since his only purpose was to listen to an older Zero tell Gustave’s story. I can only hope that these talented actors join the standard Anderson clan in his next outing.
As for the familiar Anderson clan, there are a ton of them in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Adrian Brody, and Willem Dafoe are key players that are crucial to the story. Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, and Owen Wilson are incorporated in smaller cameo roles that serve more as an inside joke for die-hard Anderson fans. The best cameo in the entire film was Tilda Swinton as Madame D. While almost unrecognizable for her short time on-screen, her performance was nothing short of spectacular.
Whether you love him or hate him, there is no denying that Wes Anderson has a knack for finding some talented young unknowns to play lead characters in his films. The Moonrise Kingdom kids were nothing short of awesome, however, Tony Revolori is truly epic as Zero Moustafa. The character starts off as this lobby boy and ultimately becomes the center of this story. Revolori portrays this character as slightly naive but definitely isn’t stupid. The relationship between him and Gustave is stellar as is his romantic chemistry with Ronan.
All in all, if you are a fan of Anderson, I have no doubt that you will love this film. There is something about the story that feels as if Anderson went back to his roots to craft this film for his fans that have been following him and supporting him from the beginning. I can only hope that he continues to branch out and tackle other film genres. I would love to see what he could do with a horror flick or action flick. I might be the only person that thinks a Wes Anderson horror movie would be awesome, but a man can dream right?
MovieManMenzel’s final rating for The Grand Budapest Hotel is a 9 out of 10.