Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Pastel Colours and Murder

Many directors have a distinct style. Many of you will remember the review on Baz Luhrman's The Great Gatsby on this blog, and how it claimed the film was dripping with the director's unique visual aesthetic, for example. Well today we look at another director with a very clear set of stylistic trademarks in his telling of the story of a man telling the story of how he heard a story from a man. This is The Grand Budapest Hotel.

The Author, a man whose words have meant the world to some, wants to now tell us, the audience, how he came across those words. Flashback. A younger author (Jude Law) is suffering from a very real - cough - disorder and resorts to staying in The Grand Budapest Hotel, a run-down shell of its previous majesty. Whilst there, he meets Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), the owner of the hotel, who offers to tell The Author his story. Flashback again, to 1932, where a teenage Zero (Tony Revolori) is the new lobby boy for the hotel under the watchful eye of concierge, M. Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes). When a client of the hotel, and a close acquaintance of Gustave, Madame C.V.D.u.T (Tilda Swinton) dies, the pair of hotel workers are thrown into a battle of greed and selfishness with her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) and along their adventure they meet all sorts of personalities like an army inspector, an artistically gifted criminal, and a concierge that can get you anything from (in the forms of Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, and Bill Murray respectively).

'Uh, just checking the wall was safe...'

With a cast so numerous in stars that hold Oscar statues or nominations (including a nigh invisible cameo from Jean Dujardin), it is difficult to imagine anything less than top level performances from all the cast, and The Grand Budapest Hotel does not disappoint. First and foremost is the absolutely fantastic Ralph Fiennes. His perfect combination of charm, bluntness, and crisp diction (not to mention his campness) are a delight to behold. A man so wonderful, he can make the biggest brutes in prison his assistants. Along with rookie Tony Revolori, the pair keep the film rattling on at a frightful fun pace, visiting prisons, mountains, strange cult-like churches all whilst on the run from wicked Adrien Brody and terrifying Willem Dafoe.

Zero was feeling a bit boxed in.

But as is the case with all Wes Anderson's films, it is the production, the beauty with which the film is crafted that stands out. The pastel colours and symmetrical images create a dreamlike landscape which you will wish you would be absorbed into. If life were as wonderful as The Grand Budapest Hotel makes it seem, we would live in a wonderland of pinks and baby blues. Coupled together with a touching and hilarious screenplay, Anderson uses all the possibilities that the medium offers him to make his story as engaging as it can be. Colour, aspect ratios, camera positioning, and sound are just a few of the elements that Anderson uses as part of his playground.

Easily one of the finest and most entertaining 100 minutes of 2014.* A treat for any viewer, old or young, for academia of for leisure. Rest assured, The Grand Budapest Hotel is art.

Best Bit? The film is so packed with 'best bits' that is nigh impossible to chose. I'll leave you to make your own mind up.

*So good, it promoted this blogger to buy his first ever Blu-Ray. 

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