How many comedy movies have you watched? Okay, and how many of them would you like to watch again? And again? To me, 90% of modern comedies are possible to watch only once – and sometimes it’s better to not watch them at all. Jokes in such comedies are mostly based on sex or some stupid actions (or both), and I can hardly imagine that someone would laugh at them twice.
However, there are comedy movies that make you want to return to them; such movies are usually based on what some might call, “the absurdity of life,” but I would rather say, “life in its fullness and diversity.” And, in my opinion, one of the directors who has mastered this approach is Wes Anderson, with his recent The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The plot is simple. In the fictional Republic of Zubrowka located somewhere in Central Europe, there exists a luxurious hotel. Its concierge, Monsieur Gustave H. (played by Ralph Fiennes) is known for his reverent attitude to his duties, as well as for his interest in ladies staying in the hotel. Once, he is accused of a murder which he did not commit, and the major part of the movie Monsieur Gustave spends trying to prove his innocence, escaping from his detractors, and parallelly mentoring his assistant, a lobby boy named Zero.
On behalf of this boy, by the way, the whole story is told. The Grand Budapest Hotel starts with the scene of a writer arriving to interview the hotel’s famous owner, who turns out to be the former lobby boy, Zero Moustafa.
To me, the whole movie is a hymn to the epoch we have lost, most likely, forever – I mean the glamorous decadence of the 1930s, the atmosphere of salons, art-nouveau, high style, and the atmosphere of the chic of the Industrial Age. The Grand Budapest Hotel reminded me of the novels by Erich Maria Remarque, Stefan Zweig, and for some reason Sholem Aleichem – the manner in which characters talk, the way they look, and the overall spirit of the film deeply immerses you into the good old days, clouded by poverty of the post-war (or pre-war?) period in Central Europe of the 1930’s. If you are a fan, or if you want to experience the real Europe – watching this movie is a must for you.
Once again, Wes Anderson used his favorite techniques based on geometry, colors, and camera work. Split screens, frames within frames, characters speaking directly to the audience – all of it you know already. Vintage fonts, perfect combinations of colors, stunning costumes and character types – all of it you know as well. But for some reason in The Grand Budapest Hotel typical Anderson techniques work with 100% efficiency, and look just perfect, as if all the pieces of one big puzzle finally fell into their places. To me, this is the ultimate Wes Anderson’s director work.
I intentionally said little about the plot. Simple when you try to describe it, it is in fact as multidimensional as life itself. Everyone will find something of their own in it.
P.S. Oh, and by the way, if you are planning to travel to Europe someday, make sure to check out Görlitzer Warenhaus – a huge mall built before the war. A huge piece of the movie was filmed in its atrium.
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