Monday, March 17, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel

This is a time for honesty- I don't know how to review this so bear with me. It has great reviews everywhere- and I don't doubt those. I've seen every Wes Anderson movie. Maybe the fact that my previous favorite was The Fantastic Mr Fox, and that I hated the Life Aquatic,  might tell you something. I know people love Wes Anderson- to the point of fanaticism. I am not a fan of the "precious" or predictable and Anderson has been both to me. He lost his bonus points with me when he cast Gwyneth P in a movie. I'm that easily offended.  Yet, this time, he seems to have somewhat broken free and given us real substance. The GBH is an alpine confection of a hotel- the confection theme is continued in the featured fancy pastries that serve all sorts of purposes. In the darkest moments of the story, there are always the pastries. Ralph Fiennes is wonderful in this- just wonderful. He is the all-controlling concierge of the GBH, and he does it with a sweet whimsy, energy and a genuine comedic touch. His lobby boy is played by a newcomer you've never heard of- but he is the perfect side kick. Saoirse Ronin is charming, and Tilda Swinton- well, words fail.   There is a murder (well, a few), a stolen painting, many chase scenes, a prison break and other things. It's a good thing that it has such humor and such lovely sets, because you must stay wide eyed and  pay attention in this. There really aren't any tidy bows at the end. And for once, the quirky characters actually add to the plot rather than self-consciously announcing themselves as cast members in a Wes Anderson film.  If you do have a moment of boredom, just count the people in the cameo roles. It is unbelievable.  So what is the final judgment on this highly anticipated film? Aside from being a solid 15 minutes too long, it is really, really good. You will ache a little for the pink postcard of the brief time between wars in Europe, and you will feel the slow seeping of dread that begins to squeeze the color from life as brutality invades.  I think if you have not liked Anderson's movies in the past, this will be one you would like.  In a bit of irony- I had to look up the lesbian painting because I recognized it. It is a real painting (unlike the fake stolen one) and you might recognize it also. I'm just saving you the time- it is by Egon Schiele- an Austrian. So the real painting is a fake made for the movie, and the painting that takes its place is real. I'm done.