What do you like best about Easter, the chocolate or the pastels? Or the idea of chocolate eggs being hidden around your house by a magical rabbit (or brought to your house in a basket from a magical rabbit because Jesus or something)?
Easter means a long weekend and an excuse to buy Cadbury cream eggs at the drugstore when you actually only went there to buy toothpaste and pantyhose. In other words, it is a gift that you should enjoy and not think about too much.
That is how I feel about Wes Anderson movies. They are candy-colored wonders, with surprising little pockets of horrific darkness sometimes, which you should enjoy and not think about too much.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is the absolute most “Wes Andersony” of all Wes Anderson movies of all Wes Anderson time. It’s not just that it’s very much “let’s shoot every third shot from above” and let’s have everyone dress up like they are characters from a Mad Men Halloween special. It is both things, sure, but it is also (I would assume) Wes Anderson smoking Marlboros in a bathtub while he phones up every actor he knows to speak three lines of dialogue in this picture. I guess Angelica Huston was busy, but everyone else is there.
The movie itself is splendid, of course. The levels of story-telling remind me of the levels of dreams in Inception: this movie begins with a girl paying tribute to a beloved departed writer, moving backwards to the narration of the writer himself when he was an old man (Tom Wilkinson), moving backwards even further to his younger self (Jude Law) staying at the Grand Budapest Hotel.
There, the writer meets the wealthy old hotel owner (F. Murray Abraham), who tells the writer the story of how he came to own the hotel. That is when the movie really spins out, going back further still to the 1930s in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. The story then centers on a dashing concierge named M. Gustave, who seduces geriatrics and gets embroiled in a scandal involving murder, art theft and pastry-assisted prison breaks. Juxtaposed with the old-timey felt costumes and WWII era moustaches are surprising jolts of absurdly bitter dialogue.
Altogether, the bizarre mix is so delightful and hilarious that I literally slapped my boyfriend’s arm and knocked his frozen yogurt to the ground.
Just like Inside Lwellyn Davis, there’s a sad scene with a cat that I could have done without. But then there is Jeff Goldblum being as wonderful as he was that time you saw him in Jurassic Park, in addition to Willem Dafoe looking like the scariest human being in the world (aka the role he was born to play). Also Saoirse Ronan, who is such a fine delight of an actress I even took the time to Google the correct spelling of her name in order to name check her (and I’m horribly lazy, you guys, so that means a lot).
The best part of the whole thing is Ralph Fiennes, though. I have loved him ever since The End of the Affair and The English Patient, both of which you absolutely must see if it is ever raining and you want to watch the world’s best romances. Here he is so funny, though! Never mind that he somehow hasn’t aged since 1997. He runs around like a king in a lush fantasy hotel world atop fake Alps, cursing and freaking out in the most adorable dandyish manner (kind of like when Ben Kingsley drops F bombs – the best!). His sidekick straight man is the new and adorable Tony Revolori, who inspires me to stare intently at sadness and leap around rooftops.
A magic movie, you guys. Go enjoy the story within a story within a Jude Law narration within a narration and don’t pay too much attention to plot. In memory of my hero Roger Ebert, I’ll employ the same rating system for my purposes (zero stars for utter garbage and four stars for perfection). I assume Ebert would have given this 3 to 4 stars. I will give it
★★★, because a perfect movie would not be so casual about animal injury.