Cinema, moving pictures used to be things that inspired awe, showed you worlds that you did not come across in your daily existence. The medium was meant to enthrall and it did for its formative years. Today however even with the advent of such wonderful technology in photography, sound and animation, the act of stunning an audience is becoming a very difficult one. Giganormous, creaking robots who make sounds like a whale passing a kidney stone, do not generate enough awe. Metal bending and mind reading portrayed by excellent actors too is able to captivate only so much of your attention. What Wes Anderson brings to the table is the same sense of amazement as experienced by perhaps our grandparents or great grandparents when they watched a film for the first time in their lives.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is the story of M.Gustav (played by Ralph Fiennes) a concierge at The Grand Budapest Hotel about a century ago. He is a paragon of efficiency and his reputation for doing everything for the hotel guest is well known. A soft spoken man of effeminate mannerisms but a wooer of rich, blond, severely ageing females. He mentors Zero, a young lobby boy from a distant land in the ways of the hospitality industry. His pleasuring of one of the hotels guests who has seen as many years before her menopause than after, gets him mentioned in her will after her death.What ensues is a determined attempt by the woman’s (Tilda Swinton) son (Adrien Brody) and his unsavory companion(Willem Dafoe) to deprive M.Gustav of any part of the inheritance. There is romance for the young lobby boy entwined into the story, action adventure, comradery, gun fights and mostly comedy in the air. The story is a good one but it is the way in which it is told that makes you wish that it doesn’t end too soon.
The cast is stellar as always in the films of this particular director. A mention of all the actors and people associated with the making of the film shall require quite a few paragraphs. However if you aren’t aware of who’s in it and have not seen the trailer in detail you shall be pleasantly surprised many a times in this film. The highlight, as most film review sources have been quick to point out is, Voldermort, the English Patient, the butcher from Schindler’s List, Ralph Fiennes. He plays a delicate role with great ease and has you rooting for him despite his penchant for overdrawn poetry and women triple his age. Toni Revolori as Zero the lobby boy is also funny, resourceful and full of spirit. Whether it be stop motion animation in Fantastic Mr. Fox or the immaculately designed sets and scenes in this movie, the style of Wes Anderson is sharp, unique and refreshing. The movie in itself is more like a dark comic book than a major motion picture. There is a great amount of visual detail and auditory experiences packed into each scene. However focused you remain during the film there is always the feeling that a second viewing is going to reveal some considerable things which you missed seeing or hearing the first time. Art critics and architectural experts have pointed out in various online sources the design discrepancies in the structure of the hotel, scenes and and the times in which they are held. I however found most scenes to be complete and without the need of them having to comply with what is the accepted and expected image. The less you know of the plot the better, even the narration is unique. Its up in the theaters now, here is the wonderful OST.
From tires swerving in the snow to beautifully decorated trophy state rooms, each shot, each scene is like a detailed caricature. You shall follow the story for it is interesting but not nearly as interesting as the manner in which it is presented to you. This like other Wes Anderson movies might be ignored by the Oscars, Moonrise Kingdom was a smashing movie as per me and yet it saw little joy at the Academy. But still this is the best movie of the year 2014, till date.
This film has its fare share of food mentions. Some rather exquisite European pastries and baked goods get mentioned with a frequency which has the tendency to set stomachs rumbling. So Something like this might be a good idea after or during the movie.