The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) – Film Review

Wes Anderson’s visually spectacular tale of murder, elegance and crime is far more light-hearted than I was initially expecting. Utilizing a bright colour palette, unique cinematography and a wonderful score by Alexandre Desplat. The film brings all the usual elements of Wes Anderson’s style that I adore, especially coming straight off the back of his two previous films that I have seen (Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs).

‘Gustave H’, a concierge of the legendary ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’, alongside his new lobby boy: ‘Zero’. Embark on a dangerous journey following a mysterious murder and the disappearance of a priceless Renaissance painting, soon leading them into the middle of a feud over an enormous family fortune.

The film definitely does have a particular artistic flair which his animated flicks do not carry, as in nearly every wide-shot in the film we are greeted with what almost looks like a painting. These paintings are almost used as backdrops throughout the film, and blend seamlessly with the bright pale colour palette of the film. Even with this colour palette and mostly up-beat tone however, the film is not afraid to dive into darker territory if needed in order to serve the story. This is definitely a change from his previous flicks, ‘Fantastic Mr. Fox’ mostly in mind here, but it was a welcome one regardless.

In addition to his style, Anderson also does a brilliant job when it comes to the writing, as the film is gushing with hilarious and memorable lines throughout. Many of the comedic lines caught me completely off-guard, with some of the humour being extremely dark. But with a cast this large and talented, you’re almost guaranteed to get comedic gold. In particular, I really enjoyed the performances by Ralph Fiennes, Bill Murray and Willem Dafoe, who you could really tell they enjoyed their time on set.

Robert D. Yeoman handles the cinematography within the film, which is of course brilliant. As not only does it contain the usual style expected from Anderson, but the cinematography even backs up the narrative of the film, as many characters within the story feel isolated, and as a result are framed completely alone. But pretty much all the cinematography throughout the runtime is fantastic of course. The original score by Alexandre Desplat is also a great aspect of the film, as he creates a very memorable soundtrack here which fits the tone of the film perfectly and really backs up many of the comedic scenes, with the tracks: ‘Mr. Moustafa’ and ‘The Cold-Blooded Murder of Deputy Vilmos Kovacs’ being my personal favourites.

For the most part, the protagonists of the film are well-written, we understand who they are within the early stages of the story. Yet as the story continues along, we continue to learn more about them. However, if I had to point out a flaw in the film it’s definitely the antagonists of the film, William Dafoe does an excellent job as the deadly hitman, whilst Adrien Brody also does a decent job as his boss. Beyond that however, the characters are very flat and are given little to no development throughout the film.

Director Wes Anderson once again also pays serious attention to detail, as in many shots there’s always small hidden gags or visual references hidden away to spot. The filmmaking itself is also used for a lot of visual storytelling e.g. the lonely characters and their framing within the shots as already mentioned.

In conclusion, I was very impressed with ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, as aside from the issue I have with the antagonists of the narrative, the film succeeds in nearly every category for me, and was a very enjoyable watch throughout. Combining Wes Anderson’s great visual style with a brilliant main and supporting cast as well as many comedic moments. The film is definitely worth a watch, and definitely worth a 9/10. It’s fair to say Wes Anderson will always have a viewer from me going forward.

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