Exercise: write a 800-word review of an art piece or of an exhibit of your choice. March 12th, 2018.
‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is the quintessence of the aesthetically pleasing. Its candy colors, its sumptuous scenery, its matching soundtrack, and its precise camera movements — sometimes static, sometimes following the characters around — won Wes Anderson’s film many awards in 2015, including the Oscars for the best achievement for costume design, the best achievement in music and hairstyling, the best achievement in music, and the best achievement in production design.
The Grand Budapest Hotel’s beauty flows from Wes Anderson’s capacity to mix contradictory elements. Though kitsch, the sceneries of the film are incredibly elegant. Though sad, Zero’s story manages to make us laugh at absurd scenes, like the one when M. Gustave runs away from the police officers who came to arrest him at his hotel, or the chase between Jopling and the duo Gustave-Zero.
The movie transports us to 1985, in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka, where a once-majestic hotel overlooks the heights of European mountains. The story sets with the owner of the hotel, an elderly Zero Mustafa, (F. Murray Abraham) telling his story and the one of the hotel to a young author (Jude Law), who recounts the story in a voice-over. It is only then that the real story of the Grand Budapest Hotel begins.
The story takes place in the marvelous hotel between the 1930s and the 1960s, and revolves around the one person Zero considers his mentor: M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), and Zero’s soulmate, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan). Back then, a young Zero (Tony Revolori) was trained by Gustave — “the original concierge of the hotel” — to be a lobby boy at the Grand Budapest Hotel, after immigrating from the fictional city of Aq Salim al-Jabat because of the war. There, Zero meets Agatha, a baker with a birthmark in the shape of Mexico on the right cheek, who works for Mendl’s.
Through flashbacks, we follow the adventures of the trio over three decades, within symmetrical, poetic and mysterious sequences for which Wes Anderson alone seems to possess the secret.
The iconic hotel is well-known for its exceptional services, which earn M. Gustave a great success with his guests, including the 84-year-old Madame D. (Tilda Swinton). However, a month after having spent the night with the owner, Madame D. passes away, and bequeaths her lover a precious legacy: the painting Boy with Apple, which infuriates her family, especially her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody).
Then ensues a fierce competition between the two enemies.
Soon after Madame D.’s death, the police accuse Gustave of the murder. The scene of Gustave and the other inmates escaping the prison thanks to Zero and Agatha is one of the most hilarious scenes of the movie.
At this point, the previous pink tones are replaced by blue and beige tones, and the plans become very wide, letting us see the prisoners escape the prison; and Gustave and Zero flee the scene. Soon after the jailbreak, dialogue is minimized, and the scene is narrated in music, like in a silent movie.
On their way to meet Madame D.’s butler Serge, (Mathieu Amalric) — the only person who is able to provide Gustave an alibi for Madame D.’s death — the pair are chased by J. G. Jopling (Willem Dafoe), Dmitri’s ally. Meanwhile, Dmitri himself follows Agatha around, after having spotted her walking around with the precious frame.
With his own style, Wes Anderson stages dramatic and violent events, such as murders and arrests, in such a formal and elegant way that it becomes humorous. Every shot is scrupulously filmed; every music cue matches the actions and the emotions, and every color is precisely picked. The colors are bright and pink when Zero talks about the hotel and M. Gustave; they suddenly fade and contain blue undertones when he counts Gustave’s stay in prison and the escape. The only black-and-white-shot is the last one of Gustave, Zero and Agatha together.
The characters’ personalities are well represented by a perfectly chosen cast. Ralph Fiennes, far from his role of Harry Potter’s villain Voldemort, makes us love M. Gustave, a caring man, despite his very strict management of the Grand Budapest Hotel, who would do — and who did — anything to protect those he loves. With his famous eyebrows’ shape, Adrien Brody manages to give the character of Dmitri a creepy look that makes us fear him. Ten years after hanging up his costume for Osborn in Spider-Man 2, Willem Dafoe perfectly portrays another villain. Finally, Tony Revolori and Saoirse Ronan offer such innocent portrayals of the young Zero and Agatha that we can’t help but fall in love with their romantic story.
For all these reasons, the movie ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ appears as majestic as the hotel of the same name.