WES ANDERSON IS A RUTHLESS STORYTELLER - probably my favourite claim I’ve ever made about ruthlessness and storytelling.
Below is my review of The Grand Budapest Hotel. I loved the movie very much and expressing that coherently was difficult, but I tried anyway!
Wes Anderson is one of my favourite storytellers. Each of his films are visual masterpieces with keen palettes, when watching Anderson’s work one feels like you’ve been transported to a world just beside ours where things are a little more ordered, a little more exquisitely colour co-ordinated, a little more articulate. Anderson is a ruthless storyteller in all the ways that don’t add up to cheap shock and awe surprises, but in his unique way show the unpredictability of life, removed enough for us to understand but still enjoy. One doesn’t necessarily desire to leave reality for an Anderson world, because for all the gorgeousness and perfect dialogue, the problems (and indeed all the good things) of the real world are all still present.
His latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is another intricately crafted Anderson tale. Visually stunning, as to be expected, and littered with Anderson’s cronies of the acting world. The comedy is genuinely brilliant, I don’t think I have ever laughed so hard or consistently during a Wes Anderson film (I’ve at this stage seen The Grand Budapest Hotel twice in the span of four days, the jokes show no signs of getting tired). It’s the delightfully dark and dry humour that goes hand in hand with Anderson’s work, and it’s in fighting form here. A bonus, of course, is the fact no nostalgia or sincerity is lost amidst laughter in this film. This tenderness is perhaps shown best through the quoting of lines of Romantic poetry, which firmly won the heart of this literature loving gal. Or equally the unfolding of the relationship between characters Zero and Agatha as they fall deeper in love. The Grand Budapest Hotel almost functions as a story within a story, the first scene including a girl holding a book titled ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’, a delightful motif used by Anderson before. The personal reflections of The Author open up for reminiscing of former lobby boy and current owner of The Grand Budapest, Zero Moustafa. We the audience are here launched into the ‘storybook’, swept up in the nostalgia of a story we’re just being told. What Anderson often does best is show us in his symmetrical world the very real complexities of human relationships, in assorted instances.
The centrepiece of The Grand Budapest Hotel is the friendship between concierge M. Gustave and lobby boy Zero. Gustave is the truest definition of charismatic, dancing between romantic and practical, and calm (most of the time). Zero is steadfast, and brave and strong as a result of the path that led him to The Grand Budapest. Together they make a seemingly unlikely but fantastic set of partners in crime (sometimes metaphorically, sometimes literally). The greatest victory of The Grand Budapest Hotel is its heart. Shown in how varied kinds of love work and what they drive people to do, acts of both bravery and treachery. Also how invaluable strength of character is, shown explicitly in Gustave, who is a man who is so great but also incredibly good, and his friendship with Zero.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a brilliant, funny, and beautiful film, another to add to that collection of Anderson’s that keep on getting better. As I said above, Anderson is a ruthless storyteller, which is why he tells the best stories. All the primped perfection of the scenes he sets delicately holds hands with how real and truly human his characters are. With each new story Wes Anderson tells he makes leaps and bounds to perfecting the art of dissecting the human heart, unpacking it and putting it back together as a story, looking superb and ready to teach you about yourself and those around you.