Day Eighteen: The Grand Budapest Hotel (MotM 2019)

grand budapest hotel

Wes Anderson’s kind of a funny guy.

First off, I’d like to apologize for these short-ish reviews lately. Real life has been disastrously busy for me and it leaves little room for free time to adequately analyze these pictures. Today will be no exception, but I hope to be more detailed in the coming future.

The Grand Budapest Hotel, like the two other Wes Anderson films I have seen, is very technically sound and generally enjoyable. If only I could for the life of me connect with them on an emotional level. Something about the way everything feels so controlled, so precise, and so layered in irony and subtle humor gives a somewhat disingenuous aura, though it likely shouldn’t. There are plenty of scenes here with absolute heart at the core of the characters’ actions and dialogue. I suppose it doesn’t feel as though the characters have earned it.

Lots of things in this film—occasionally throughout, though mostly in the beginning—are simply stated when I think there should be more time to develop the circumstances. Supposedly the hotel “headmaster” of sorts bonds with a new bellboy, but is never really dedicated to showing them bonding, only how the hotel orchestrates in a similarly efficient (and humorous) order. The bellboy and one of the hotel’s cooks begin a romantic relationship and, again, are never given the dedication of working toward that future relationship (or at least showing it). Everything simply happens, from a Point A to Point B fashion, with the quality of the film coming from the humorous and ironic ways one gets to those points, and what happens upon their destination.

Imagine if I placed the Mona Lisa in front of you. You could look at it and go, “Yeah, this is really well-painted.” You could even be given some context behind it, for example (the following is made-up), that the Mona Lisa was inspired by a local handmaiden who often gave a face of displeasure due to her family’s lack of wealth in their everyday lives, requiring around-the-clock labor and little room for rest. That could show some sympathy and some intrigue to what you’re being shown. However, unless you’re really into the subject of painting, the analysis of a certain painter, or otherwise, there’s not much you’ll get out of it other than the base level of “I appreciate this as fine art.” That’s how The Grand Budapest Hotel feels to me. That’s how Wes Anderson has felt to me thus far.

Quirky, full of lovely cinematography, and great performances, if only the film had blended a source of heartfelt development to these characters rather than supplant them there at the drop of a page in a book. I would’ve liked to have seen more of all of these characters, but the story took precedence over everything. Intriguing as it was, it doesn’t have that same “oomph” without the progress of a character in a transitory fashion. Things happen, and it’s fun to see those things happen. It’s just not… I’m not sure. Sublime?

Final Score: 7/10

The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

Thank you for your time. Have a great day.

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