The Grand Budapest Hotel is an epic 100 minute retelling of the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a world class hotel located in the fictional republic of Zubrowka during the second world war. The film is told in a series of five different acts, each retelling a key incident towards a major dynamic shift that occurs in the hotel.
Straight off the bat, this film is gorgeous. Every color is vibrant and pops right off the screen. Every shot has a purpose and is an archetype of master filmmaking. From the very first shot of the film, which says ‘change your aspect ratio to 16:9’, I knew I was in for a treat. The most noticeable piece of cinematography in this movie was symmetry. Every shot, I repeat EVERY SHOT was in the centre of the frame, and whilst doing further research I have come to realize that this is one of the many OCD repressing tropes of Wes Anderson filmmaking. Take the following shot:
Doesn’t that look satisfying? Notice how by putting your index finger in the middle of the screen, you would be able to create a perfectly symmetrical shot between the chandeliers and the staircases. This is just one of the hundreds of examples of the attention to detail in this film.
Lets move on to performances now. Not much to say about this really. The film features a star studded cast from Bill Murray to Ralph Fiennes to Edward Norton. As expected all these actors do a decent job in their respective roles, however a critique that I do have is the use of accents. I am not sure whether this was intentional or not, but there was quite a blend between American and British accents throughout the whole film. For example, Edward Norton a ZUBROWKAN police commissioner seemed to showcase southern texan accent, which seemed out of place.
The film also fails to expand on some of the relationships we see. For example, we are told of Zero Moustafa’s (a lobby boy) relationship with a female baker, but we never really get to see this relationship flourish. I get that the focus of the movie should be the relationship between Gustave H and Moustafa but still do expect a bit more character development.
Overall the Grand-Budapest Hotel is a masterclass in filmmaking. It utilizes colors, set-pieces and symmetry to its advantage to create a gorgeous looking movie with a semi-intriguing story littered with comedic elements. However the film does get lost in its narrative a little bit, most noticeably by failing to expand on some of the character relationships in the film.
As mentioned on my very first post in this blog, I am a second year engineering student. Therefore to cap off this review, here is another eye-pleasing shot in the film, which just so happens to match my expression to when I have to row reduce a 6×6 Gaussian Matrix by hand. Enjoy: