Saturday, April 12, 2014
Movies Monthly - April - Part 1
Mise-en-scène is the main attraction in The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson’s whimsical, imaginative, fantastical farce that takes place in an extravagant old-world hotel in a fictional central European country in 1932. Characters pass briefly through rooms so meticulously conceived and presented that you almost cry out for the characters to slow down and pass through the rooms again. Unfortunately, the painstakingly rendered hotel never becomes a character. Only a small portion of the action takes place there. Meanwhile, M. Gustave, the intrepid concierge, wonderfully performed by Ralph Fiennes, becomes embroiled in a plot involving murder and a murky inheritance, taking him to an opulent mansion, a prison, and an alpine monastery.
The film presents splendid images – I love the totalitarian grimness of the prison gate; excellent performances – I enjoyed newcomer Tony Revolori as Zero the lobby boy, and his relationship with Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), the baker girl, is quite charming; and some engaging moments – the prison escape, as a process, is carried out with typical Wes Anderson style and humor. It is clear, with its cast of exotic characters, and its attention to 1930s film style, with the film presented in classic 4:3 aspect ratio, that Anderson is passionate about this genre and its time period. Ultimately, however, the film falls flat, so smothered by its own clutter of visual detail, its overwhelming verbiage, and its distracting, endless string of cameo appearances by Anderson favorites that the film doesn’t have the chance to be compelling or touching in any memorable way.