the fresh films reviews

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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Wes Anderson
Germany/United Kingdom
The Grand Budapest Hotel
100 minutes
Wes Anderson
Scott Rudin
Steven Rales
Jeremy Dawson
Wes Anderson

Cast includes:

Monsieur Gustave H. Ralph Fiennes ½
Young Zero Moustafa Tony Revolori ½
Dmitri Desgoffe und Taxis Adrien Brody
J. G. Jopling Willem Dafoe
Deputy Vilmos Kovacs Jeff Goldblum
Agatha Saoirse Ronan
Inspector Henckels Edward Norton
Old Zero Moustafa F. Murray Abraham
Serge X. Mathieu Amalric
The Author as a Young Man Jude Law
Ludwig Harvey Keitel
Monsieur Ivan Bill Murray
Clotilde Léa Seydoux
Monsieur Jean Jason Schwartzman
Madame D. Tilda Swinton
The Author as an Old Man Tom Wilkinson
Monsieur Chuck Owen Wilson
M. Martin Bob Balaban
M. Dino Waris Ahluwalia
Lieutenant Neal Huff
Grande Dame Lisa Kreuzer
Pinky Florian Lukas
Wolf Karl Markovics
M. Robin Fisher Stevens



One of the most inventive films of the year comes from the ever-creative Wes Anderson in the form of a celebration of everything that was great about interwar Europe: lavish hotels and resorts functioning as sanatoriums, a predilection for fine arts and architecture, and cultivated living. Anderson's story is a great example of a story within a story; it's elegantly laid out, presented and told, with its inherent insignificance (being constructed in every sense of the word) presented with all the significance possible, i.e. through clever storytelling and instantly fascinating characters.

The time is, as previously mentioned, the interwar period, and the place is a generic fictional Central European town, probably bordering Germany. What's great about the historical relevance Anderson gives his film is that while the political situation and the war threat is palpable and undoubtedly looming in the wings, it is also presented as essentially meaningless – a fact which is perfectly illustrated by our protagonist Monsieur Gustave's annoyed reaction when his train is "stopped in a barley field" by the occupying forces.

Anderson's story, as is often the case with his stories, is about lives fully lived by peculiar characters. In other words, there's no implicit meaning behind it all; the film is about characters and relations, the lives they live and the wonders and experience they draw from it. As such, the film is life-affirming and inspirational more than it is enlightening, but Anderson's real achievement is in his wide and complete utilization of the film medium and all its evocative stylistic possibilities. Because above anything else, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a stylistic and artistic triumph. It tickles you and sucks you in like a great painting; it seduces you like a wondrous piece of music. And although Anderson may seem like one of the purest and most artsy filmmakers of today, he certainly knows what he's doing and which buttons to push. Not only does he seduce us with his palette, he also beguiles us with star power by populating his film with an array of wonderful players. Let's not dwell on the fact that most of them essentially make cameo appearances, meaning that many of the supporting characters here are caricatures – at least Anderson puts them to the logical forefront and lets them decorate his film with the same unassuming elegance as the rest of his retro-inspired visuals. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a wonderful film, even if it's completely hung-up on its own wonderfulness.

Copyright © 23.2.2015 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang