Check into The Grand Budapest Hotel

Grand Budapest Hotel - poster

Wes Anderson’s latest movie The Grand Budapest Hotel will give you everything you want and expect in a Wes Anderson movie.  Now if you’ve not seen a Wes Anderson movie, you may wonder exactly what that means.  It’s a little hard to describe the Wes Anderson trademark style, but once you become familiar with it, an Anderson movie becomes recognizable from a mile away.

The Grand Budapest Hotel may be the ultimate expression of Wes Anderson’s visual style.  It is a precious jewel box of a film; a feast for the eyes; a kid’s movie for adults.  A.O. Scott of the Times:

It’s a tough choice, but if I had to pick the most Wes Anderson moment in“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” it would be the part when inmates escape from a prison using tiny sledgehammers and pickaxes that have been smuggled past the guards inside fancy frosted pastries. This may, come to think of it, be the most Wes Anderson thing ever, the very quintessence of his impish, ingenious and oddly practical imagination. So much care has been lavished on the conceit and its execution that you can only smile in admiration, even if you are also rolling your eyes a little.

Grand Budapest - snow still largeYes, “Wes Anderson” has indeed become an adjective.  The biggest surprise for me was that Hotel was as engaging as it was.  Based on the trailer which I had seen a couple times, I thought the movie would be nothing but an orgy of Wes Anderson’s trademark humor and visual style, and little in the way of anything else, in particular a worthwhile plot.  His movies, for all of their unique assets, have in the past been very weak on story: think The Life Aquatic and The Darjeeling Limited.  I was encouraged two years ago when he re-employed good storytelling in Moonrise Kingdom.  Hotel retreats somewhat from a trend toward strong narrative, but there’s enough of a plot structure to hold the enterprise.

That plot is at its core straightforward, even simple, but complexity is nicely introduced by orbiting story elements.  And framing the recounted events in the era of a glorious hotel which later succumbed to communist-era banalities adds a welcome depth to the film.  That the flashback works as well as it does is another plus for the movie — so often this type of time-shifting fails in film.

The combination of a decent narrative and the film’s exceptionally rich, even luxurious production values makes The Grand Budapest Hotel a film not to be missed by cinephiles.  8/10

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4 thoughts on “Check into The Grand Budapest Hotel

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