I have a strong fondness for Wes Anderson ever since March 2001 when I saw the Royal Tenenbaums for the first time. I myself was going through a rough patch with my family and this quirky, absurd, abstract look at the modern dysfunctional family helped me keep focus and it really cheered me up. I have been a firm fan ever since. He has such an unusual style, but it flows so well through his films. When you go to see a Wes Anderson film you go to see beautiful sets and slightly off center dialogue, it helps remove you from the real world and it draws you into his world.
After watching the Grand Budapest Hotel at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, I overheard one of the many happy Patrons’ saying that the film was so Wes but not at the same time. I have to heartily agree with this statement, I mentioned earlier that his off base dialogue is one of his greatest assets, but at the same time it can be a hindrance to gaining wider acceptance. I know in the past that I have shown people some of his movies, such as the wonderful Moonrise Kingdom and they have come away hating it because of the dialogue. In this film he has actually took it back a little and it’s still present but toned back, which really helps with the flow. Another hallmark of a Wes Anderson film is the sets and locations and he has gone in the opposite direction on this film. In films like the Royal Tenenbaums, he is filming in a complex home or on an island in Moonrise Kingdom. The grand sets, such as the Hotel Budapest itself, are beautiful and vibrant. The sets draw you in and make you feel like you’re in another time and place. Each set is a character in itself, whether it be the warm inviting colours of the Grand Budapest in its prime, or the Regal Look of Madame D’s home that makes you want to stand up straight and act proper. Even the Budapest baths in their later days decrepit still exhume a sense of relaxation that really adds to the filming. Wes Anderson really knows how to select great locations.
We have praised the Writer & Director and the locations but this film would be nothing without its cast (once again we can thank Wes Anderson for this; he keeps getting such great cast members).
Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave H. – Anyone who has seen In Bruges will know that Ralph has the potential to be a comedy genius and it wasn’t always the dialogue, it was his delivery and his mannerisms. In this movie he is even funnier but far less terrifying as a camp flamboyant but defiantly heterosexual man. He is someone who is a man apart, a man full of discipline, integrity and respect, who isn’t against taking much older women to bed. I don’t think anyone could have played this role other than Ralph Fiennes. He has defiantly changed the word darling for me and very few men could pull off the purple suit as well as he did. As an actor he really makes the role part of him and takes on the role of true chivalrous gentleman it’s a real treat to watch.
Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa, this little known actor played the role of Zero perfectly; he was closer to the traditional Wes Anderson character than anyone and delivered some of the best dead pan lines I have ever seen. You really see the movie through his eyes and he is a great actor..
Jeff Goldblum as Deputy Kovacs – An actor who has never been given enough credit, yes we have seen him in the big budget movies, but this character piece is where we really see him shine.
Adrien Brody as Dmitri Desgoffe and Willem Dafoe as J.G. Jopling, are the main antagonists in this movie. Though Adrian is brilliant in it, as always, it’s Willem who really shines. We are all used to seeing him play over the top in recent years but here he plays quiet and subtle, it’s a great return to form seeing him as the menacing henchman constantly up to no good.
Saoirse Ronan as Agatha. This young Irish actress continues to astound us with her talent and every role she takes further shows her diversity. Along with these great actors we see many minor roles filled up with other well-known faces Mathieu Amalric (Quantum of Solace) as Serge X, Edward Norton (Fight Club and American History X) as Inspector Henckels, Bill Murray ( Ghostbusters and Lost in Translation) as M. Ivan, Harvey Keitel as Ludwig (Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs), Jason Schwartzman ( Bored to death and Rushmore) as M. Jean, Tilda Swinton (We need to talk about Kevin and Only Lovers Left Alive) as Madame D, Owen Wilson (Zoolander and Bottle Rocket) as M. Chuck, Léa Seydoux (Inglorious Bastards) as Clotilde, F. Murray Abraham (Scarface and Homeland) as the older Mr. Moustafa rounding out this amazing cast is both Jude Law and Tom Wilkinson both playing the writer. The old saying is that in theatre there are no small roles only small actors, I think this is incredibly true in the works of Wes Anderson where there are certainly big roles but defiantly no small roles.
With a cast that would cause envy in most other directors, great wit, a slightly unorthodox structure to the story, amazing filming locations, one of the most absurd gun fights in film history and some of the best dialogue I have ever heard this bittersweet, funny charming film is defiantly one of my top picks for the year and a one that is well worth seeing.