This was my first experience of Wes Anderson’s direction, and he certainly left an impression with his tale of the adventures of Gustave H, a hotel concierge, and his trusted friend Zero. I was immediately captivated by the cardboard cut- out world which he had created so painstakingly, and which resembled the inside of a Parisian patisserie. From the icing sugar- dusted mountain tops of his fictional Europe to its outrageously colourful inhabitants, this film was certainly a joy to behold. I felt the urge to freeze each frame in an effort to drink in all of the detail, and to appreciate for a few moments more the beauty and drama of the quirky composition and eye- watering pastels. Accompanied by a staccato soundtrack, the actors moved with a kind of lyrical synchronicity which gave many scenes the feeling of a bizarre dance, and snappy dialogue brought wry smiles and deep thought in equal measure. A fabulous ensemble cast including the likes of Jude Law and Bill Murray elicited chuckles of recognition at every turn, and Ralph Fiennes was perfect as the charming and whimsical Gustave H.
But this film was not entirely style without substance: beneath the confectioner’s pastel we glimpsed the underbelly of this alternate but chillingly recognisable Europe: newsprint declared the coming of war, soldiers stood starkly at checkpoints and demanded documents, and grey flags were unfurled in the opulence of the hotel’s lobby. But despite the darker elements, the story remained charmingly bittersweet. The characters were funny, they were clever, and they were likable, and most importantly they went on a good old-fashioned romp among the mountains of Wes Anderson’s imagination. There were cable cars, murders, a missing will, a chase down a snowy mountainside, a stolen painting, champagne, a prison break, a love affair and exquisite patisserie: what more could you really ask for? Extremely enjoyable and visually stunning, the Europe of The Grand Budapest Hotel is certainly a continent to visit.
All content is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2014, apart from the film poster, which is from the movie’s official website.