A Promenade on the Bygone Side
If you’ve been perambulating about London in the most recent of weeks, you may have noticed the billboard posters for Wes (idiosyncratic) Anderson’s new screen pageant (the words movie or film seem unfairly trite relative to what he conjures up) for the grandeur that is ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. It is, in itself is a thing of resplendence (the movie and billboard), and I don’t think there has ever been a movie poster with so many famous people in it.
Entering the rabbit/Anderson hole that is norm with all of Wes’ movies, cable carring down through multiple layers of characters through their ages/timeline and their association with the once splendid destination resort ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ (2014), in the fantasy (yet instantly familiar) land of the Republic of Zubrowka. Through the generations of guests, owners and employees we are introduced to multiple strands of the core story of a family in feud, fuelled by hate and avarice, particularly in the search for a painting called Boy With Apple, which is worth untold riches.
The focal point of the tale checks in as head concierge of the hotel M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes having the time of his life with this character), guiding us through the various Machiavellian exploits/adventures he and his new side kick bellboy Zero (Tony Revolori also having the time of his life) have to deal with to care for the requests of the guests, and oh, threats on their lives.
As with pretty much all Anderson works, there is a beautifully rendered absurdity about the movie. It’s best to embrace it’s joyful folly immediately, and willingly be beguiled by the whole experience. With stunning art direction/set design that feels like a vintage edition of Wallpaper magazine shoot through the marriage of Tom Ford and Cath Kidston, every single frame of the movie is pretty much stunning to look at, and the script is equally amazing, with a deep lyrically antiquated lexicon, with a cheeky amount of swearing thrown in for good measure.
Despite the frivolity of the fare, there are some somewhat gruesome/topics moments too, much to the shock/screams (a number of times) of the woman sitting in front on me during the screening, which invariably had me thinking of the original Grimm brother fairy tales, which where quite vicious in their telling. It doesn’t detract from the experience, but it did seem to jar with the overt kitschness presented.
The rest of the review could be filled up with the huge amount of sterling cameos that register in to contribute to the captivating wild creative abandon, and clearly everyone is having a blast participating in this quirky fable, which lovingly sweeps you along. Having said that, personally I prefer when Wes is somewhat more constrained. Such is the creativity on display in this feature, that my mind was strobing with glee at all the imagination before me, which ultimately felt like it was too much. As if every one of Anderson’s ideas note books (there must be millions) had been blended together with pastel coloured fruit, and served as a soup, which you had to eat with chopsticks. It is a joy to experience, but I found Moonrise Kingdom (2012) far more satisfying fare, with less creative indigestion.
’The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is out now.