Wes Anderson is largely known for his distinctive stylistic flair, elaborate set-pieces, and offbeat storytelling. Take all of that, then add some whodunit, a prison break, and Hitchcock-esque mystery, and you have “The Grand Budapest Hotel” – an unabashedly raunchy, thoroughly entertaining, and sharply written farce containing everything that you’ve come to either love or hate about the virtuoso filmmaker + even more.
From the very first frame, the stage is set for a rousing motion picture of the old kind. In its first 10 minutes, the film may seem to tread relatively familiar territory for the filmmaker, but then he completely flips every genre convention on its head like a painter with an endless amount of paint, an unusually large canvas, and no formal constraints to draw the line between what is culturally acceptable and down-right offensive. One moment, a man is gracefully orchestrating a hotel staff, the next he is being given a blowjob by an 85 year old woman.
It is a dangerous line to walk, but because everything feels so deliberately constructed from start to finish, visual jokes like these never come off as provocative, but rather as well-placed gag-bullets in a machine gun that constantly fires at you, never missing its target.
As the movie progresses, the craziness grows exponentially, while Anderson slowly but confidently adds flavours of european expressionism, and sprinkles flecks of unpredictability on the very calculated structure, thus creating a friction between two polar-opposite styles. This ultimately results in every cinephile’s dream combination of Hollywood excitement and art-house subtleties.
Aesthetically speaking, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” arguably features the most eye-popping and visually splendid framework of the 2010’s, and it certainly is the best-looking and most strikingly attractive film Wes Anderson has ever put his name on. The way he layers his compositions is similar to the way a baker carefully nurtures a delicious cake. He starts with a clean slate, and then carves a sculpture so effortlessly, that you sometimes wonder if he is a wunderkind with godly abilities to turn every frame into pure gold. Sure, nothing here looks particularly realistic, but then again, that’s not the point.
Anderson doesn’t deny the artificiality at all. Quite contrary, he embraces it like a kid cutting out his favorite artworks to create a charming collage that he feels represents him, even if he has to borrow the materials from other artists. For him, it doesn’t seem to be as much about originality as it is about creating something new and fresh from what has already been done. That is the true beauty of this film, which is unquestionably one of the most inventive cinematic experiences in recent memory. In fact, I would be shocked if it didn’t AT LEAST get nominated for ‘Best Cinematography’, ‘Best Art Direction’ and ‘Best Original Screen Play’ when the Oscar season comes around.