The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel ★★★★½

As everyone probably knows, The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson at his most visually stunning, but this is not to say that the film is lacking any substance. While following a loose heist premise, Anderson actual builds real, intense, suspense, an aspect which is missing from some of his other live action films. Along with the visuals, I think that The Grand Budapest Hotel actually has Anderson’s most well realized characters yet, featuring a wide ensemble of unique characters. But at the forefront of these characters is the relationship between Gustave and Lobby Boy Zero, which is one of the most beautiful friendships/mentorships ever seen on film. The quirks of Anderson’s directing adds so much to this relationship, offering new angles of a relationship that traditional filmmakers don’t typically cover. Because of Anderson’s respective directing style, his characters tend to be more memorable than most just because they act so differently from what you typically see in other movies. 

The thing I love about The Grand Budapest Hotel is that it just never fails to put a smile on my face. And that is something that I really needed after watching Manchester by the Sea, which depressed me to my core. And I think that this movie is capable of cheering anyone up. It combines whimsy and absurdist comedy to form something that makes you experience every emotion imaginable. Most of the movie has a light, comedic tone, but some points of the films get pretty bleak and hopeless. The tonal diversity of this film is what makes it great in my opinion. From the beginning, the film paints itself in a sophisticated light, which makes it even more subversive when the deadpan vulgarity and bursts of violence are delivered. By themselves, these moments are far from being comedic, but when paired with Anderson’s meticulously crafted set-design, which screams stylistic sophistication, these scenes contrast with the film as a whole, and provide comic relief. 

One of the most impressive feats of this film has to be in its wide range of impressive performances. This movie has about 11 performances that I would consider to be amazing. As for some of the lesser roles, the performances of Adrien Brody and Willem Dafoe particularly jump out to me. As I said, every Wes Anderson characters is memorable, but these actors deliver performances that undeniably boost the effectiveness of their characters. And as for Ralph Fiennes’ performance, I think he definitely should have gotten an Oscar nomination for it. I wasn’t the biggest fan of his performance in Schindler’s List, but his performance in this film was one that truly deserved to be recognized by the academy. Moving on from acting, I think that Grand Budapest’s cinematography was outstanding. The way Wes Anderson’s camera moves is an art form in itself, his strictly vertical and horizontal camera movement makes the film look much more polished, and fits into Anderson’s style seamlessly. From an aesthetic standpoint, this is probably the greatest film I’ve ever seen. But unfortunately, I don’t find the narrative of this film as substantial as some other movies I’ve given 5 stars to. But this movie is endlessly enjoyable, and something I will be revisiting constantly.

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