The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel ★★★★


Wes Anderson’s most stylistically rich film to date; quite a statement considering his oeuvre. In all its picturesque glory, the Grand Budapest Hotel lives and breathes; it feels like a place that existed at some long-forgotten juncture of the past, every frame adorned with the colorful vibrancy of Zubrowka. It’s all fake, of course—the hotel, the story, the characters, the country, the entire world—yet I find myself more immersed in this fictional place and these scrawled characters than boatloads of films based on true events. I suppose that’s the key with Wes—he’s got an uncanny ability to evoke nostalgia for places that don’t exist. Helps that the (massive) cast is uniformly phenomenal here, from the newcomers (Ronan and Revolori) to the heavy hitters (Finnes, Brody, Norton) to the bit-parts (Law, Keitel, Abraham). I’ve often likened this movie to reading a really reeeeally good book—the kind you can’t put down, the type whose story is so intricately woven that imagination becomes transformative, occasionally transcendental. Struggled with a few of the zanier sequences—the downhill ski chase or the hotel-wide shootout—if only because they threaten to rupture the surrealism established theretofore. Small complains compared to the stake in my heart when (old) Zero tells the Young Writer, “No, the hotel I keep for Agatha. We were happy here for a little while.” It’s also a riot from (nearly) start to finish, and the multilayered story structure isn’t anywhere as distracting as others have lamented. You could argue that the third or fourth levels of inception aren’t necessary—and maybe they’re not—but they add to that intangible mythical/historic appeal of the hotel.

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