After the success of Fantastic Mr Fox and Moonrise Kingdom, his most accessible and consequently finest films to date, Wes Anderson lets his imagination run wild like never before with The Grand Budapest Hotel; a whimsical fantasy adventure that sees the bohemian director further blur the boundary between mainstream and independent cinema.
Throughout his twenty year career Anderson has always brought a terrific originality to contemporary cinema with his unique vision, but only recently is this divisive filmmaker beginning to discern genius from folly. His earlier films polarised audiences, where some enveloped themselves in the quirkiness of his cinematic universes others were left irritated by the overwhelming pretension. It wasn’t until Fantastic Mr Fox where Anderson took steps to alter his style to appease a wider audience – his sublime stop motion animated comedy is renowned for its multi-generational appeal – and he hasn’t looked back since.
Anderson remains stylistically self indulgent and The Grand Budapest Hotel is a return to more artful endeavours, but his newfound nous to supplement his outlandish style with coherent substance ensures he continues his trend of offering something for everyone.
Varying aspect ratios, sensational set design and a vibrant colours form a rich style that transports the audience to Anderson’s latest make-believe setting; The Republic of Zubrowka, an idyllic European alpine region tormented by poverty and war. Imagined worlds have always been a major part of Anderson’s storytelling, but where some have been previously hard to access The Grand Budapest Hotel opens its doors to all through a rousing playfulness that was unlocked by his 2009 adaptation of a children’s tale and has been the success behind his past three films.
Colourful characters, antiquated charm and witty one-liners are set against the haunting tones of the parallels it draws to the Nazi invasion of Europe in this darkly comic adventure. Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori and an ensemble of recurring Anderson collaborators embrace the whimsy of their unconventional roles in this highly entertaining adventure.
Wes Anderson is an independent filmmaker with big studio budgeting, who has commendably maintained his artistic integrity throughout his career. His determination to bring arthouse to the masses earned him early recognition, but it wasn’t universally appealing and only now, after eight films, are we beginning to recognise him as a master of his craft – delivering the sort of original filmmaking, intoxicating entertainment and storytelling escapism that contemporary cinema lacks.