Star rating: 4 stars
Bottomline: A delightful Wes Anderson oeuvre that goes beyond a murder.
There is a superlative sequence in the film which brings together the director,Wes Anderson’s trademark visual style and quirky humour in the most heart racing moment. Two victims helplessly hurtle down icy ski slopes on a crazily speeding sled, chasing a sinister looking killer (Willem Dafoe). It looks as if the camera glides you through the same and sends chills of fear and delight together up your spine.
When the sled stops, one is hanging from the edge of a cliff, another ‘s feet can be seen upside down, with the rest of the body buried inside. The killer stomps mercilessly on the cliff. Ice cracks show up. The main victim, Gustave (Ralph Fiennes)clutches the icy edge and belts out a brave dying speech, rendered in the most gentry manner. Seconds later, an unbelievable move concludes the grand spectacle.
There are many such applaud worthy, highly imaginative, gasp evoking and outlandishly funny moments in The Grand Budapest Hotel. A marvelous gunfight across the corridors of the hotel is another deliciously fun ride.
In every single, carefully designed frame of the film, you can see that Anderson loves to weave a tapestry of perfectly stylized decor, period drama and dry humour. Beyond that, we see his softer gaze on a pre World War 2 East Europe seen through the eyes of a young South Asian immigrant, funnily named Zero (Tony Revolori).
In a 1932 flashback within a 1968 flashback,we see Zero getting hired as a lobby boy at Grand Budapest hotel in a war ravaged fictitious place, Zubrowka, by Gustave.Zero is witness to his charming employer bidding goodbye to the dead body of an aging widowed lover, a guest at thehotel.Madam D (Tilda Swinton) happens to be a wealthy lady and has left him a precious painting in her will. There is much more revealed about her connections to the hotel later. When the widow’s greedy, vicious son (Adrian Brody) refuses to let him take the painting, Zero helps Gustave steal it.
The film, thereon moves to a series of adventures and murders, imprisonment, a bizarre escape and a cute, budding romance between Zero and a pastry chef girl, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), a sweet girl with a tattoo like birthmark on her face.
Fingers are cut off and a head in a basket is found in the most sudden, jolting and unforeseen turn of events: the mark of a subtly fantastic written screenplay. The effect is simply startling. Particularly a scene involving a cat.
In a small remarkable touch that bespeaks a hotel background, an escape route is hatched through tiny tools smuggled through miniature pastries sent to the prison. By the time the film ends, too many characters and several time periods and incidents relevant in Zero’s life are covered.
There is a great ensemble cast too that includes Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel and Jeff Goldblum. But the ultimate heroes are the director, the art directors, costume designers, magician cinematographer, Robert Yeoman who create amazing, frosty and depressing beauty in grey tones along with music composer Alexander Desplat.
Plenty of reasons there to watch the Anderson oeuvre, besides the thrill of a murder, presented with a flourish. And don’t miss those colourful confectionaries.