Recommended Viewing Situation:
In your finest velvet and silk apparel, absolutely prepared for anything your clientele might desire.
Running Time: 99 minutes.
Format: 35 mm Film, on Arricam ST, Technovision/Cooke, Cooke S4 with Varotal and Angenieux Optimo Lenses.
Director: Wes Anderson.
Cinematographer: Robert Yeoman.
Writer: Stefan Zweig, Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness.
Awards: Won the Academy Award for Best Achievement in Costume Design, Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score, Best Achievement in Production Design and so much more.
An exquisitely funny and gloriously twee film, The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) is Wes Anderson’s finest work to date (and possibly one of the best modern comedy of the 00’s). Although this writer is not the biggest fan of Anderson’s bijou style (The Darjeeling Limited (2007) being a key example), this piece has the just the right amount of quirk, charm and narrative to be a standout masterpiece. Based on the works of Stefan Zweig, the film follows the story of ‘The Author’ and his time meeting the Grand Budapest hotel owner, Zero Moustafa in the fictional province of Zubrowka. The majority of the film is the aged Moustafa recanting his thrilling life as a young Bus Boy, beholden to the incredible concierge of the hotel, one M. Gustave. Whilst the threat of war is looming overhead, Gustav is accused of murdering one of his many aged ‘lovers’ and only a missing 2nd copy of a 2nd will can clear his name. It falls to Zero and Gustave to find the will, avoid the war and keep the hotel running before it is too late.
Let’s take the first part of this archive entry to talk exclusively about the farcical genius of Ralph Fiennes. His near perfect performance as M. Gustave recalls the incredible physical and oral comedic timing of Buster Keaton and Peter Sellers all rolled into one. The emotional breadth and depth of his acting breathes life into Anderson’s film like no on else could, providing the dramatic continuity that allows the narrative to unfurl effortlessly. Such a performance is matched only by Tony Revolori as Zero, whose earnest and sometimes deceptively sheepish mannerisms draw the audience towards the wider anxieties and mythical history of Zubrowka and the film. If these two aren’t enough for you, the film offers up an incredible cast that dazzle and excite the audience in equal measure, including the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Léa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson, to name a few.
Anderson’s coquettish visual symmetry and distinctive aesthetic, mixed with the vibrant palette of cinematographer Robert Yeoman, creates the perfect world for the heart-warming and somewhat tragic tale of The Grand Budapest Hotel. The overall surrealist edge is of great impact, lulling the audience into a false sense of comfort before slowly unleashing the murky realties of Zubrowka; the piece is constantly jaded by themes of war, poverty and the situation of meaning in light of forgotten history. Its wholly postmodern uses of narrative layering at first seem like a gimmick, however by the end of the film it is a stark reminder that moments and meaning are often lost in the past, and behind every story the realities of the world do not, should not and will not disappear.