Even if you don’t know the names of actors, you will certainly recognize many faces in The Grand Budapest Hotel, which premiered February 6th at the Berlin International Film Festival and made its way to the US in March. In Wes Anderson’s latest film, the director/writer loads up on familiar faces once again, including big names like Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, and Edward Norton, just to name a few. Having big-name casts in Wes’s previous films did not always translate into a successful movie, though. This time, however, the quirky Wes Anderson pulls it all together. Check out the picture of the cast and see how many actors you recognize.
The ‘Budapest’, filmed in Germany, mainly takes place in 1930s Europe on the brink of World War II. Anderson based his film on the works of Jewish novelist Stefan Zweig, who fled Austria when Hitler came to power in 1934. Anderson never portrays soldiers as Nazis with the “SS” emblem; rather, he cleverly replaces it with “ZZ”. The film does not focus explicitly on the brutal effects of war. Instead, Anderson seems to focus on the civility that remained within the Grand Budapest Hotel before the war. Here’s a profound quote from the movie: “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, f*** it.”
In some dream within a dream, within a dream Inception fashion, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a story, within a story, within another story, but don’t worry, it’s not nearly as mind-bending as Inception. In short, the story follows M. Gustave H., the hotel concierge, and his quest for the rightful ownership of a painting bequeathed to him by a frequent visitor at the Grand Budapest Hotel. Along the way, Gustave is wrongly accused of murder, escapes from prison, flees from the police, and more in Anderson’s love-story, detective comedy.
Visually, The Grand Budapest Hotel is gorgeous. The attention to detail and colorful sets capture a distinctly nostalgic feel. The movie’s soundtrack, composed by Alexandre Desplat, lends itself perfectly to the classical, charming environment. Structurally, I have to say that this is Wes Anderson’s best work. Unlike some of his previous works, ‘Budapest’ moves along seamlessly and lacks the sluggishness of some of his other works (I’m looking at you, The Life Aquatic). The cast has so many famous actors that Anderson has to limit certain actors to meager roles. I wished some actors, especially Owen Wilson and Bill Murray, received more than cameo roles, but every actor’s appearance brought a smile to my face and garnered an audible, “Ah, I can’t believe he/she is in it this, too!” from the audience. Anderson’s witty dialogue reads like a well-written novel and provides hilarious one-liners.
The Grand Budapest Hotel won’t have you pondering the meaning of life or anything like that; the movie doesn’t intend to delve too far beneath its surface. ‘Budapest’ does what it set out to do: entertain with memorable characters and spectacular visuals. I give it an 8.5 out of 10.