Friday, April 25, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Director: Wes Anderson
With: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Edward Norton, Mathieu Amalric, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Léa Seydoux, Jeff Goldblum, Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, Harvey Keitel, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson

The only movie I've seen directed by Wes Anderson was Moonrise Kingdom and he immediately enticed me with his distinct style of direction--marvelous production designs that seem like straight out of a children's story book, sweetest color palettes that triggers allurement to the screen, quirky characters wearing neat designed costumes and a great ensemble to give justice to them. The Grand Budapest Hotel is nothing short of these aspects. In fact, it's way more extravagant and a way better experience than the former.

It's a thrilling ride that follows the story of a previously young lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) who worked under Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), a charismatic yet strict concierge of a grandiose hotel called 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'.

The film consists of well-known actors and actresses but Budapest's storytelling is so fast that it swallows these actors' prominence and instead focuses on the characters they're playing. Anderson's characters are so quirky and distinct to each other that even though the film boasts of a number of heroes and villains, everyone remained memorable.

Everyone worked their characters very well and while all of them delivered, Ralph Fiennes stood out the most as the primary carrier, or should I say 'concierge' of the film - both as an actor and as a character. Gustave H is undeniably likable, a stubborn hero, a nefarious protagonist, he's an unsung hero reminiscent of classic playful Old Hollywood characters. It worked for him that he's not playing a kind-hearted goody goody hero because we knew him as an actor who played iconic villains. He was Lord Voldemort and he was monstrous. He was Amon Goeth and he was despicable. But Ralph Fiennes redeemed himself for playing this character that's just so ironically likable, even touching at times. Honorable mention is Willem Dafoe. As one of the characters with a brief role, he notably injected himself as the bulldog-looking scoundrel who's funny and awful at the same time.

In my viewing experience of Moonrise Kingdom, as much as I was highly fascinated by Anderson's work, there were times when it felt a little lethargic. But the slowness of the former, he makes up for the bold and quick pacing of Budapest. It never rests in entertaining the hell of its viewers. What made it more fun is that it's a movie with a world straight from a creative and unconventional imagination, youthful in its colors and execution albeit containing mature stories and characters.

I also just want to mention how Alexandre Desplat scored the hell out of this movie. It's kind of funny because it seems like he's scoring every other movie I watch this year. No complains here because he's a fantastic musical composer and he made Budapest more whimsy and playful.

Its humor is both verbal and visual. Its pacing is something most movies should have. I'd give this film 5 plums in a New York minute for its richness, creativity and astounding viewing pleasure but I just wish it connected more emotionally.

Even then, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a must-see film that somehow will remind you of the fulfillment one earn in watching quality movies.