Grand Budapest Hotel is the latest film from Wes Anderson chronicling the adventures of a concierge and his protégé in Eastern Europe between the wars.
Family reunions are usually filled with familiar faces, a space for stories, and of course, the typical melodrama.
It’s not too difficult to envisage Anderson’s films as fundamentally comparable.
Grand Budapest Hotel is a fine offering providing the usual characteristics of a Wes Anderson film, still symmetrical shots, wide panoramic scenes, and grand storytelling. He mixes all this with dry and sharp humour throughout which has pervaded all his previous films
Ralph Fiennes plays Monsieur Gustave, one of – if not the – most respected and specialist concierges of Eastern Europe, who is as known for his penchant of older, blonde lovers, as he is for his exquisite and exceptional service. So much so, Gustave is the main reason that guests visit the hotel, his reputation precedes him across industry and country.
Bringing class, elegance and sophistication to his character drawing our attention every time he appears, one wonders whether any other actor could have delivered as good a performance with such aplomb as Ralph Fiennes has done here.
When Gustave is the main recipient of the will from one of his recently deceased guests, he must work with his protégé and lobby boy Zero, to ensure that he receives what is owed him, and escape the clutches of his clients family.
While it may seem simple to assume that Gustave is self centred, egotistical, and greedy, as the film progresses and we bear witness to his relationship with his young pupil, we understand why Zero looks up to him so much.
Zero is an immigrant without friend or family, played with ease and confidence from Tony Revolori, and it seems surprising given the reaction of Eastern Europeans to immigrants between the wars, to have Gustave not only befriend and mentor him, but to defend him publicly putting his life and reputation on the line.
It is in those moments, that we see the true colours of Gustave, and of what Anderson and indeed Fiennes, finds so appealing about the character. Gustave is none of the assumptions you initially make of him.
Contrastingly, Willem Dafoe colours the film with a darker palette, producing a brutal turn as Jopling, the hired guardian paid to retrieve the family’s rewards, and pursue Gustave as he makes off with the family treasure.
In conjunction with his employer Adrien Brody, Jopling provides some of the darkest moments seen in any of Anderson’s films, cutting through characters as if they were books at a Nazi bonfire.
With Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson delivers a grand story, one of his funniest in years, without the overt melancholic tones of Moonrise Kingdom or The Royal Tenenbaums, but with the same camera work and humour that all his films produce.
A distinguished and ensemble cast throughout the film provide the familiar faces required for any family reunion, playing to the precision and directness of the camera that his films construct.
Like any friendly family reunion, when all is said and done, you walk away, laugh, and reminisce. However, what you really do is look forward to the next one, and wonder what stories are in store.