A Grand Pursuit
Ralph Fiennes continues to fascinate me. When I saw him in The English Patient, there was a lingering dullness to his screen presence which took a long time to shake. For The Grand Budapest Hotel, he has achieved a more spontaneous edge, often reminding us of comedic masterminds from the 1960s, such as Peter Sellers and Zero Mostel.
Wes Anderson’s original comedy depicts everything from the clockwork operation of a hotel to the central murder mystery involving concierge Gustave (Fiennes). It’s a spiral staircase of elegant art direction, designed to put a bun in the oven of cinematic impotence. If genius can be measured by laughter or innovation, then Anderson has arrived at a perfect style to suit his blossoming talents.
Fiennes becomes a major player to the extent that talk of Oscars can seem somewhat clichéd. He’s completely in charge of technique and improvisation, while carrying the self-confidence to make it look effortless. Smaller roles occupied by F. Murray Abraham, Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum add dashes of brilliance to this well-crafted milieu.
Overall, there’s not a single echo of traditional storytelling to be found in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Scenes run into each other like dominoes on a smooth surface. The story forms its own internal logic based on chance meetings, turns of phrase and fleeting bursts of activity. I highly recommend this film as an example of Anderson’s idiosyncratic gifts for storytelling.
(Released by Fox Searchlight and rated "R" by MPAA.)