The Grand Budapest Hotel
A typical Wes Anderson film that daftly balanced the drama and comedy but never forgetting the emotional core. Possibly his best work yet. The 5 brightest stars in this marvellous cinematic piece are are undoubtedly: Wes Anderson - The Director and co-Writer; Hugo Guinness - the other co-Writer; Ralph Fiennes - The Lead Actor; Robert Yeoman - The Director of Photography; and Alexandre Desplat - The Composer. All 5 of them contributed immeasurably to the total, overall enjoyment of the movie.
Anderson has given us one of his best films to date. The directing was sharp, speedy and innovative. With his chapter of the story, he employs a slightly different technique to tell the story, and the pace changes from the slow, deliberate prologue to the increased energy of a young bustling, right-at-its-prime, hotel, and then the frantic race to the end. He is a master of winding up the tension and throwing of curveballs. A crafty storyteller that keeps you at the edge of your seat with the unexpectedly expectant - and expectedly unexpectant - twists and turns. The mix of stop-motion animations just add to the visual pleasure of watching a Wes Anderson movie. Anderson's frequent cinematographer Yeoman captured some really glorious images especially of the eponymous hotel and the scenes within it. But even outside the hotel, frames were beautifully shot and the lighting was spot on! Such a visual treat this movie was!
Of course, kudos also goes out to his co-write Guinness. Both men have written a smart, deathly funny - oh, what a joy to laugh out loud in the cinema! - and sublimely touching story. The adventures that we go through may seem preposterous - artistic license and all that (never trust the storyteller...or author) - but yet we can still believe in the journey. That is the power of Story.
Ralph Fiennes has never been better. The amount of maniac energy that he displayed was delightful. No sense of ego in his performance at all. And of course he genuinely seemed to be having so much fun! But for all his craftsmanship, some acknowledgement must go to his on-screen sparring partner, newbie Tony Revolori who admirably managed to keep up with the indomitable Fiennes.
Like all Anderson movies, this is also an ensemble. Tilda Swinton was hilarious! I cannot imagine anyone else playing the role that she played. Edward Norton, as always, is reliable but here, he had less of a role to play (and shine) than in Moonrise Kingdom. William Defoe scares the bejesus out of me but he was so gleeful fun as the villain! Adrian Brody reminds me of Cruella de Vil. Saoirse Ronan has a comic bone that needs to be unearthed, hopefully Anderson will cast her again in the future. Jeff Goldblum had a few great moments that really exploited his comic talents. Jude Law looked dapper and had good chemistry with charismatic F. Murray Abrahams but both were merely nothing more than glorified cameos. As was Léa Seydoux as the - what else? - French maid. Other Anderson staples like Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and Bob Balaban also made cameos.
Lastly, this is perhaps one of Desplat's best score. Bettering the one that he did for Moonrise Kingdom, or the Oscar-nominated one for Philomena. In my opinion, this is on par with that severely under-rated soundtrack for Rise of the Guardians. The music here was practically a character all by itself. With its own life. It just felt so organic to this movie. Each character and each moment has his/hers/its own theme, and that final overture over the end-credits summarised the entire mood of the movie: a bit silly, a bit serious, but all fun!
Can it sustain its accolades to make it for next year's Oscars? I see Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Score.