Saturday, 8 March 2014

Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

World of Blackout Film Review

The Grand Budapest Hotel Poster

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Cert: 15 / 100 mins / Dir. Wes Anderson
WoB Rating: 6/7

Like a dream being recounted by someone who's halfway through one drink too many, Wes Anderson's latest caper is preposterous in its set-pieces, sketchy in its detail, yet completely enthralling as his audience marvels at the story unfolding from his mind. The story we see on-screen is nested multiple times, told by an older version of the young lobby-boy we see in the trailer, to a young writer whose older-self*1 narrates the segments which cut back to him, which in turn is a book being read by a girl we see in the opening shots. This almost generational passing-down of the events means you forgive the outlandishness of the details and just enjoy ride. And what a ride.

The film's not quite as madcap as the trailer would suggest, at least not in its pacing, but it's every bit as eccentric. Many of the film's A-List names appear as short cameos, but are also superbly dialled-down*2, given their limited screen-time. Deadpan is the order of the day, here. The real plate-spinning is done by Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori as hotel concierge Gustave H and his lobby-boy, Zero Moustafa, respectively. Both actors hold the madness together perfectly, and they clearly had the time of their lives doing so. The lighting and photography directors complement Anderson's vision perfectly, creating a sort of live-action cartoon (but in a good way. Not like The Expendables). One of my favourite features was that most of the film is presented in 3:4 aspect ratio, a fact that would normally bug the hell out of me, but that sits perfectly in this film.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is, as you can imagine, a little on the self-indulgent side, but when a film's this much fun that's entirely forgivable. For all of his massive acting range, this was the role that Fiennes was born to play. Quite, quite marvellous.

Is the trailer representative of the film?
The film is more restrained in its structure, but that's what you're getting, yes.

Did I laugh, cry, gasp and sigh when I was supposed to?

Does it achieve what it sets out to do?
…yes. I think.

Pay at the cinema, Rent on DVD or just wait for it to be on the telly?
If you're going to see it, see it at the flicks.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
I won't.

Will I watch it again?
I will. It'll either be in the next few days, or some unspecified point in the future. I haven't decided yet.

Is there a Wilhelm Scream?
There isn't.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

And my question for YOU is…
Does this mean I can go back and check out Anderson's other work now? This has been the only one that really appealed...

*1 Some characters appear as their older and younger selves, bearing little or no resemblance to each other. In most films this would annoy the hell out of me; in this one, I didn't mind it for a second.
*2 Well, as dialled-down as you're going to get in this film.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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