Gustave, a famous concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel becomes close friends with Zero, an immigrant lobby boy through a series of adventures.
This one is a tough nut to crack. It is hard to weigh on one hand the technical achievements this film makes and the superb acting it shows you while on the other hand weighing the disparate tone that it conveys.
I would like to start of by saying that I did like this movie, it kept me interested throughout and ended superbly and right on time. I do not mean this to say that I was excited that it was over, more that I have noticed a trend where great movies tend to not know when to wrap up their own stories. This is one of the many things I loved about “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, it told a succinct story with little to no “fat” to speak of. I can’t think of a single scene that could be easily cut out without altering the films message in some serious way.
I of course was also deeply enamored by Wes Anderson’s cinematography. This is the second Wes Anderson film I have seen, the other being “Moonrise Kingdom”, which needless to say set a high bar for interesting camera work and framing. While not better than “Moonrise Kingdom” in this department “The Grand Budapest Hotel” meets this same level of quality with ease. The way in which the camera moves about a scene helps to draw the eye in a natural way around to what is important. Not only that but Anderson uses some older movie making tricks (painted backdrops, model sets) to help give the film the same sort of charming feel that I got from “Moonrise Kingdom”
But herein lies my biggest complaint with this movie, and honestly the complaint that keeps this good movie from being excellent. Just like “Moonrise Kingdom” this film has a extremely charming feel to it. It is presented in such a way that everything feels comforting and warm, it is the big soft blanket of movies. But, unlike “Moonrise Kingdom” this film is not about two young outcast lovers who have to try and stay hidden from a troop of over zealous boy scouts. No, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” deals in much more serious subject matter, murder, prison breaks, art theft, and dealing with what is obviously supposed to be a representation of Nazi’s without outright using a swastika. Because of this warm comforting feeling not once throughout the film do you at all feel any worry for any of the main characters and I am not sure if that is intentional or not. This disconnect from reality set by the tone in both cinematography, acting and at times even setting makes it hard to take anything seriously. This wasn’t a problem in “Moonrise Kingdom” as even if we got the “bad outcome” it wouldn’t mean the death of any of our main characters, the film would simply have become a charming tale of young love broken apart. But due to the stakes that this film raises you can’t help but realize that everything will work out for the best in the end. Even the few conceits that do occur, these few negative things that happen seem to be so glossed over by the incessant charm that they are robbed of any impact they should have had.
I know this makes it sound like I didn’t care for the movie and that’s simply not true. As I stated at the top “The Grand Budapest Hotel” delivers as a fun movie going experience. I would and will recommend this film to people in the future. But, perhaps due to the high expectations that Wes Anderson’s previous work had set in my mind, I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed by this film. I give it a 7/10
Available through Netflix DVD through the mail