"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Wes Anderson’s “The Royal Tenenbaums” is one of my favourite films of recent years; I also enjoyed his “The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou”. I’m less fond, however, of “The Darjeeling Limited” and “Fantastic Mr Fox”, his playfulness as a filmmaker sometimes tending to undermine the acuteness of his focus on troubled individuals.
His latest work, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, is certainly playful, with its flashbacks within flashbacks, cartoonish interludes, McGuffin-based plot and multitude of star names in small roles. Inspired by the work of Stefan Zweig (with whose work I am unfamiliar), it plays like a picaresque Cold War-era Middle European novel as adapted into a crazy Hollywood comedy from the 1930s.
Ralph Fiennes is a comic revelation as the suave concierge of the titular establishment, and amongst those cast members who are allowed more than cameos, Willem Dafoe and Saoirse Ronan shine especially. Some reviews are suggesting that the film is little more than a clever confection, but one doesn’t have to dig too deeply to uncover a meditation on friendship, loneliness and loyalty. It’s a meticulously crafted joy.