I don't suppose there is much use in telling you otherwise, but there are other movies out this weekend than Spider-man's Adventures with Angry Electricity Man (in which, as per policy, I shan't be indulging). Well, truthfully, there isn't much. Transcendence is all right, but its occasional beauty doesn't make up for its general lack of salt. No, one must delve a little deeper if he is to find solace and escape at the hands of the cinematic minister. Such solace is found, and relished, in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel.
This little film has actually been out for a month or so, but the powers that be have declined its making even a weekend stop in Cedar City, so I had to go to it in Salt Lake. Perhaps you have already seen it. If not, it tells the story of Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), a legendary concierge in an eastern European hotel, and his adventures with his valet Zero (Tony Revolori). It is a film of easy and winning charm, delightful like a colorfully wrapped box of chocolates.
The film begins properly in the mid-sixties. The hotel, though still grand, is aging and has had some unfortunate orange and green plastic makeovers. Soon, though, we are whisked back to the thirties and it is restored to its full, lustrous charm. I say this to illustrate one of the film's defining characteristics: it is permeated by a joyful yet wistful nostalgia. You say: but all Wes Anderson films are like that, that's kind of his thing. True, but this one is different. Gustave embodies truly an age gone by, something that has been gone too long for even the parents of those writing about it to remember. But it is still there, just beneath the surface.
But I am waxing metaphysical. The film itself is a joy to see unfold. There are intricate models and sets and costumes, and each inch of screen is filled perfectly. The story is an amalgamation of romance and intrigue and adventure wrapped in a script as endlessly entertaining as its cornucopia of characters. It is one of those movies that feels much shorter than it is, that casts a pleasurable spell of forgetfulness and livens a rainy Saturday afternoon. I suppose it has that most in common with its adventure movie brethren of the Golden Age: the possibility of temporary escape into another, better-decorated world. Only now, it is we who are envious of they.
The Grand Budapest Hotel features Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Willem Defoe, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton and several dozen other delightful actors, and is rated R for some pretty hilarious swears and some naughtiness.
Writers: Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Director: Wes Anderson
by Chase Harrison