A Grand Accomplishment


Tony Revolori & Saoirse Ronan

By Nicholas Lemos

Wes Anderson’s latest, «The Grand Budapest Hotel,» further solidifies his status as one of our generation’s great auteurs.  With films under his belt such as Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and Moonrise Kingdom, his newest is a welcomed contribution to the filmography.  And it’s one of his best.

The film centers around a book called «The Grand Budapest Hotel,» which itself centers on the story of M. Gustave (played by Ralph Fiennes), who runs the hotel in question.  After being accused of murder, Gustave goes on the run with his trusty lobby boy, Zero (Tony Revolori), at his side.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a hilarious, thrilling and heartfelt journey.  The entire cast is absolutely superb – the best of any of Anderson’s films.  Fiennes is an absolute standout as the flamboyant head of the Hotel.  Younger actors Revolori and Saoirse Ronan both deliver top notch performances; they hold their own, something potentially very difficult considering the rest of the cast.  Anderson regulars Jason Schwatrzmann, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson have minor but welcomed roles in the film.  Two actors new to Anderson’s films deliver excellent performances: F. Murray Abraham, as the older Zero and Jude Law as The Writer.  Their characters’ meeting gives birth to The Grand Budapest Hotel book.  Overall, the well-rounded and full cast allows Budapest to firmly stand out against his previous efforts.

The film is an achievement in terms of its production design, too.  It may be Anderson’s best in terms of visual aesthetics, as well.  An example is The Hotel itself, throughout all its changes over decades.  It starts off with a lush and lavish look in 1932, turns to rundown but vibrant 1960s colors, and is eventually seen in its present-day demise.  The brilliant capture of each decade is not only aesthetically enjoyable, it also lends the film an authentic feel.

Anderson’s use of miniatures helps provide the film a timelessness and adds to the brilliant vibrancy.  The art of miniatures in film has been mostly long and abandoned, but Anderson utilizes them well here.

Something Anderson does, which is interesting from a formalistic standpoint, is to switch aspect ratios as the film moves through time.  For example, when the setting is the 30s, the aspect ration is 1:31:1.  It then increases with each subsequent jump in time.  It’s a unique choice of representation, and a clever one that works for The Grand Budapest.

Overall, the film is one of 2014’s best releases thus far, and a great addition to a singular filmography.  Incredible performances from Fiennes, Murray Abraham, Adrien Brody and countless others breath life into the film as parts of one of the great ensembles.  Anderson captures each of the decades he covers with characteristic meticulousness, putting his signature stamp on the 1930s, 60s and so on.  While it may be continued evidence of Anderson’s great auteurship, the film is accessible: anyone can sit down and enjoy The Grand Budapest Hotel.