The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

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When it comes to imagination and brilliant style, Wes Anderson is well-regarded as the best. His films have always been quirky, idiosyncratic and wonderful. He has topped himself this time with the magnificent Grand Budapest Hotel, which is a combination of Anderson’s unique cinematic style, and combined the the wonderful European films of the 1930s and 1940s. This is also his most accessible – it isn’t too idiosyncratic, has a great story and is incredibly funny.

It has become my trademark to concentrate on the performances in a film, because honestly that’s one of the driving factors for me when watching a movie. This film has some career-bests for some actors – Ralph Fiennes has been nominated for two Oscars, played Voldemort and been a true dignified gentleman of cinema. Then why is it that his greatest performance doesn’t come from a fantasy mega-hit, a terrifying World War II epic or a British period drama, but a little comedy such as The Grand Budapest Hotel? Well, I think it may be because he suspends the seriousness and actually has some fun for once. Let’s be honest – some of the greatest performances in history have been played with fiery dedication and seriousness, but in the case of some of them, the actors actually clearly find joy in playing the part – the ultimate example of this is the wonderful Christoph Waltz in his brilliant performance in Inglorious Basterds. I would probably rank Fiennes near the bottom of thespians who I expect to try comedy and be great at it, but he truly surprised me here. His acting is so natural and so flawlessly precise, even the most vulgar curse sounds like a honey-coated sentiment coming from his mouth. Of course, the supporting cast is brilliant as well. F. Murray Abraham gives a great, but sadly too small, performance as Zero Moustafa, with Tony Revolori being a revelation. I sense big things for this kid, and he could do worse having his debut with such a cast. This film is cameo-centric, with great parts from Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray and Tilda Swinton, who I wish we could have seen more of.

Apart from that, the film was beautifully filmed and the sets were flawlessly decorated. Not only is this film an acting pleasure, it is a visual feast – so much detail is put into the tiniest parts of this film, and detail was even put where detail isn’t necessary. Very few films can pull off the true greatness trifecta – brilliant narrative, flawless design and amazing performances, but this film manages to do it, just like all of Wes Anderson’s previous films.

This film may not be the greatest right now, but it will develop such a following due to it being sweet, funny, warm and most of all a great story. Only those with hearts of stone can resist feeling a little moved at this brilliant film from a truly great director.

 

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