M. Gustave: Is it the soup metaphor?
There is no use in trying to prove otherwise; Wes Anderson has distinctly unmistakable style. His films are instantly recognizable and his colourful approach to storytelling has just as many ardent fans as it does detractors (or, as I like to refer to them as, sticks in the mud). As an admirer of his oeuvre, I would think it insulting to call him one note but I would also be hard pressed to say otherwise. That said, when the note in question is as beautiful and as boisterous as Anderson’s is, why is there even the need for another note to begin with? Besides, practicing what he knows over and over again has led Anderson to a place where the brilliance he creates seems effortless, as is exemplified in his latest offering, THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL.
In his follow up to the Academy Award-nominated critical darling, MOONRISE KINGDOM, Anderson tells a story, within a story, within test another story. Having been retold through so many wondrous filters, the story is so far removed from its original source that on many levels, it cannot help but be told with the grandees with which Anderson exudes. In doing so, Anderson almost seems to be justifying just how far removed from reality this story truly is. This is, after all, the story of a gigolo hotel concierge (Ralph Fiennes, having more fun with a role than I can ever recall seeing) who stands to inherit a great deal of money from the same elderly woman (Tilda Swinton, made to look elderly, and hysterical) he is thought to have murdered. He must, with the help of his trusted hotel lobby boy, Zero (Tony Revolori), prove his innocence and reclaim his rightful inheritance. In order to do this, he will need to break out of prison (with the help of Harvey Keitel), ward off the dead woman’s insane family (including Adrien Brody and a particularly frightening Willem Dafoe) avoid capture from the military police, led by Edward Norton, and reunite Zero with his lady love (Saoirse Ronan). He must do all of this while maintaining the reputation of the Grand Budapest, the love of his life. If it sounds like riotous zaniness, that’s because it is.
THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL is clearly not meant to be taken seriously so why shouldn’t it be told with the airy and whimsical eye of Wes Anderson? Some stories, especially one that stemmed uniquely from his own mind to begin with (this is the first screenplay Anderson wrote all on his own), demand a particular vision to be told properly. Of course, while watching THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL, you cannot help but notice the patterns in Anderson’s work but, in all honesty, this film constantly tickled me with such great delight that I didn’t care at all that Anderson hadn’t pushed himself as a filmmaker. In fact, I was thrilled he hadn’t and impressed with just how natural it all came to him. Plainly put, spending any length of time at the Grand Budapest is so infectious, you won’t ever want to leave. In fact, it may ruin you for other movies, I mean, other hotels.