The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel ★★★★★

“Did he just throw my cat out of the window?”

AH WOW I ADORED THIS. It is the most Wes Anderson movie the quirky American auteur has ever done. Most, not in the sense of having the greatest amount of Anderson’s trademark aesthetics crammed in, but rather, in the sense of these aesthetics realizing their full potential. Yes, being an Anderson film means you can already expect this movie to be about a group of lovable misfits going on a wacky adventure, but at the same time, it is unlike anything you have seen before. This is the height of the Anderson magic— it is simply impossible for even those who had grown accustomed to Anderson’s style to ward against its charm.

The presentation of this film is immaculate. The narrative takes up the form of a nestle doll set that starts and ends in a similar manner (Anderson’s obsession with symmetry raised to a whole new level); each setting neatly wraps around the central adventure and holds it in great affection, reverence, and melancholy. The story is punctuated by the occasional alternating between narrative layers. The Grand Budapest Hotel knows precisely when to pause, sidestep, and whisk forward— the pacing is never offbeat. As the story weaves back and forth across time, the aspect ratio shifts to reflect the change. Each aspect ratio presents a new composition opportunity. The per usual stunning shots are so beautiful that you can literally frame and hang it on the wall.

What surprised me the most was perhaps how funny this was. Comedy is present in all of Anderson’s movies; however, none of them can measure up to this film. The humor is dry, sometimes physical, and often times unexpected. I laughed aloud many times, and much of this movie’s hilarity can be attributed to Fiennes’s impeccable comedic timing and delivery, so much so that I could not imagine the lines being delivered in any other way.

The flawless story pacing and structure, picturesque cinematography, and exquisite production design each reinforce the impression of The Grand Budapest Hotelbeing a labor of utmost care. It is not to say Anderson doesn’t pour his heart into every film he had ever directed, but his cute stop-motion features (Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs) failed to instill the same warm and fuzzy sensation in me. The Grand Budapest Hotel is not exactly a feel-good movie. At times it is wistful and melancholic, for the (illusion of a) civilized world “sustained with a marvelous grace” by Gustave came to an end eventually—succumbed to war and diseases. The key essence that sets The Grand Budapest Hotelapart lies in the protagonists. Flawed as the Zero and Gustave (well, it’s mostly Gustave) are, when faced with great hardship, they never despair or turn to cynicism. They remained steadfast, and they persevered with the help of friends. Though their endearing relationships were brief, their tales lived on.

Every Wes Anderson movie finds a way to bring the audience into his strange little hermetic worlds. But the beginning and ending of this movie are his most genius device, disorienting us through the role of the narrator and literal framing, with aspect ratio shifts. Before we know where we are we’ve tumbled into the past and have no choice but to shrug and take Jude Law at his every word. And then we lose him too and then accept that anything goes.

Overall, it is a well-balanced film that loses not an ounce of human warmth in its pursuit for precision. Perfection.

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