I have set a goal for myself to watch films I haven’t seen before. It happens, you miss films you should have seen or films you wanted to see but never had the chance to watch them. Recently I viewed Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014).
Good timing as well because it was recently nominated for 9 Oscars this year. Normally the Oscar season is full of films that came out in the past few months, so it makes it even more interesting how a film that came out in March 2014 has received a lot of award show buzz. Is it worthy of this attention?
It stars Ralph Fiennes as a concierge who teams up with one of his employees to prove his innocence after he is framed for murder. It is a star studded cast featuring Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jude Law and many more.
My verdict for the film is quite favourable. I am fairly new to Wes Anderson’s style as I have only seen Moonrise Kingdom (2012) apart from The Grand Budapest Hotel, but I get his unique vision. There is no question of a doubt that Anderson can be labelled as an auteur, a director with a specific stamp mark over his work. There is a whimsical nature to his films, a vibrancy and great mixture of comedy and drama. Specially The Grand Budapest Hotel is a visual treat. Beautiful pastel colours and incredible production design. The locations were otherworldly, isolated and makes it stand out.
The cast ensemble is something to admire. The Wes Anderson usuals Tilda Swinton and Edward Norton feature, as well as Oscar winning Adrien Brody playing the eccentric Dmitri Desgoffe und Taxis. But of course the standout performance is delivered by Ralph Fiennes who plays the egotistical and devoted concierge of the hotel. Fiennes leads the film seamlessly and has great on screen chemistry with newcomer Tony Revolori (Young Zero Moustafa) who have to try and clear the name of Monsieur Gustave H. Young Zero wholeheartedly follows Gustave on his wild adventures, and even though it is unconventional, there is something amusing in their partnership.
There’s a scene where Gustave asks Zero why he wants to be a Lobby Boy at the hotel, and he replies: “Well, who wouldn’t? At the Grand Budapest sir, it’s an institution.” That’s the start of their friendship.
Whilst I admire Wes Anderson’s style, it’s not my favourite film. Personally I just take his films on surface level, there’s no clear depth to them. That’s not to say there’s no meaning in them and that they are hollow, because they’re not. But for me the reason why I loved The Grand Budapest Hotel is because of it’s visual beauty and his refreshing filmmaking style.
Also I was quite disappointed that Oscar winner Tilda Swinton was only in the film for a couple of minutes. She is an incredible actress and she fits perfectly in this film and her character lingers throughout, yet from the way her role in the film was advertised you would have thought she would have more on screen time. Another actress I thought was underused was Soarise Ronan, a young actress with a maturity. Again, her character had a right place in the film but I wish she was featured in the film more.
So basically, I more admire than love the film. I love Wes Anderson’s direction and his personalty seeps through the film, yet it’s more style over substance. The cast was great and had their own place in the film, but because they’re all so great you wish they all had more screen time. But of course, sadly that cannot be the case. It is definitely worth the watch, so you can understand Anderson’s style.
Speaking again of its Oscar attraction, the film has been nominated 9 times in most of the major film categories. Including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Writing-Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. It received a lot of love from the Golden Globes (winning Best Film- Comedy or Musical) and also recognition from the BAFTA’s. This is following its early release from March 2014 and has been available to buy on DVD for months now. It is Wes Anderson’s highest grossing film of his career, rolling in over $174 million worldwide against a $23 million budget. I am really happy for this recognition, I definitely don’t dispute it. But I don’t think it should win big, it should win at least for the production and technical categories.
That is another reason why I admire this film, it can have that effect on people. To stay around in peoples minds months after its release so it can be labelled Oscar worthy. I think it will give the film more exposure and persuade more people to watch the film.
Next on my list I want to watch Two Days, One Night featuring Marion Cotillard, already an Oscar winner who has been nominated for her second Oscar this year. The film is in French so hopefully the nomination will give more exposure to the film and people, like myself, can finally get around to watching it.