~ The Grand Budapest Hotel is the Blind Spot entry for March. Full listing here. ~
Camp, vivacious, effervescent Fiennes swoops around with a contagious air that ensures Wes Anderson’s latest venture rattles along at an intensely enjoyable pace.
Beginning our story at a statue in memorium to the unnamed author accountable for the exquisite tale of the Grand Budapest, the story that unfolds is exact to the most absurd and delightful detail. Taking a break from the toils of ‘Scribes Fever’ Jude Law, our youthful author from a time before, takes up residence and finds solitude during the lonely off-season at the eponymous Grand Budapest. But his begging natural curiosity hones in on a mysterious gentleman, positioned comfortably yet quizzically in the lobby, awaiting fate to offer him a chance to tell his magnificent story. One Zero Moustafa is his name and fate fells the head of coincidence in the most unlikeliest of places. The once beautiful, now decadent bath house plays host to the first meeting between our young writer and Mr. Moustafa, where the he cordially invites him to break the mould of comfortable loneliness and join him for dinner, to tell his story.
With all the humility embraced and mastered from his lobby boy days Moustafa begins his story with the introduction of M. Gustave; the most fascinating concierge to dance the halls of the vivacious Grand Budapest. Gustave, adorned in lavish coattails painted Willy Wonka purple begins the story, ordering the room into place with composure and panache, oozing flamboyance, exuding an aura of control, of centrality.
Gustave’s formal introduction to Zero Moustafa sets in motion this extraordinary tale of love, conspiracy, admiration, and loyalty that sweeps across the Republic of Zubrowka; another of Anderson’s eccentric fictional locations that requires no formal context, that stands alone in and of itself as a vital character. Just like Batman‘s Gotham, Marty McFly’s Hill Valley, or Blade Runner‘s Los Angeles the vast Republic of Zubrowka feels innately connected to the unfolding plot of comedic absurdity and loquacious wit.
After one of Gustave’s beloved guests, Madame D. is reported dead in the morning’s paper Gustave and Zero travel to the family estate to pay their respects. Unexpectedly endowed with the sole ownership of fictional renaissance masterpiece, ‘Boy with Apple’ in Madame D.’s last will and testament Dimitri, D’s son, is enraged that this ‘sublime’ work of art is to be inherited by a “ruthless adventurer.” It is on this fateful journey that Gustave gets drawn into a web of deceit eventuating in his arrest on suspicion of murder. The questionably virile Gustave has a better understanding of the criminal justice system than he’d have you believe and firmly asserts his presence at Check-Point 19 Criminal Internment Camp. Forging an alliance with Harvey Keitel’s band of satirical miscreants in his second Anderson cameo, after Moonrise Kingdom, Gustave assists in his elaborate escape plan.
In a twisting plot turning full circle Gustave and Zero are pursued across Zubrowka by Dimitri’s brutal employee Jopling, played by Willem Dafoe. Anderson’s purple Budapest plateau shows its true originality when Gustave calls upon ‘The Society of Crossed Keys’ a secret establishment of hotel concierges across Europe. In a masterful montage of colour and cameos Gustave and Zero’s desperate situation reaches Bill Murray, Bob Balaban, and Fisher Stevens amongst others, calling for their aid in escaping the pursuing law enforcement led by none other than Edward Norton, as well as Jopling.
As if The Grand Budapest Hotel didn’t have enough strengths already this outstanding cast, no matter how minute the role, from Tilda Swinton’s haggered makeover to Jeff Goldblum’s executor rhetoric, each character adds to the soft indigo tinge to make Grand Budapest one of the greatest marvels of modern cinema. Soaring high above other current visionaries Wes Anderson’s violet Zubrowka fell short of the Best Picture award losing to Iñárritu‘s Bridman, and for good reason, but it rightly picked up Best Costume Design, Makeup, Original Score, and Best Production Design. With one of the most detailed and lavish sets of any of Anderson’s previous work The Grand Budapest Hotel has taken his work to new levels that we can rightly assume will only get better.
The enchanting, long-lasting comedic value of The Grand Budapest Hotel riddled throughout takes a sombre tone upon it’s close. But Gustave’s illusory, optimistic, marvellous mirage of grace often falls by the wayside to Anderson’s smooth script opting for well-timed profanity, and attributing it to the most well-spoken of all his characters.
“You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that’s what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant… oh, fuck it.” – I couldn’t have put it better myself Gustave.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a Wes Anderson classic but only time has the ability to test it’s true potential. For now, it’s a Must-see and had 2014 not been such a strong year for cinema I have no doubt the Grand Budapest would have gone out in a blaze of glory.
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~ Happy Viewing ~
Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai blindside me in April.