- Direction: 2.9 out of 3.0
- Writing: 1.3 out of 1.5
- Performances: 0.9 out of 1.0
- Cinematography: 0.8 out of 1.0
- Editing: 0.8 out of 1.0
- Sound & Music: 0.8 out of 1.0
- Creativity/Originality: 1.4 out of 1.5
- Total: 8.9 out of 10
To criticize the films of Wes Anderson as being hermetically sealed terrariums with bric-a-brac ecosystems so overly controlled as to leave little room for human emotion would be to overlook the undercurrent of melancholic longing and regret that runs through the director’s work. That his style, which probably reached its maximalist peak with The Fantastic Mr. Fox, can at times begin to suffocate, however, is difficult to ignore. The Grand Budapest Hotel, a screwball caper set in three distinct time periods (each with its own distinct aspect ratio) mostly avoids this pitfall by being easily the most visceral entry in Anderson's filmography, throwing in a murder, severed body parts and a first person point-of-view high speed chase down a snow covered mountain. Danger, at least what passes for it in the cinematic world of Anderson —skull ring and leather wearing thugs and an invading fascist army with one hell of a designer— lurks around every corner for the inhabitants of the fictional alpine state of Zubrowka.
The Grand Budapest Hotel sports several layers of story within story, but the film’s ostensible narrative follows the adventures of the hotel’s charmingly roguish concierge Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) and his wonderfully named lobby boy sidekick Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori). When one of the many wealthy, older guests that Gustave has made a habit of bedding passes away under mysterious circumstances, the legendary concierge finds himself to be the target of both the authorities and the woman’s treacherous family. It’s not news that actors seem to love to work with Anderson as what could be considered as his stock company contains some of Hollywood’s most recognizable faces, but the ease with which established and experienced stars such as Fiennes slip into his ensembles remains surprising. Even if he occasionally underuses a genius talent like Mathieu Amalric, he makes up for it by doing things like having Willem Dafoe chop off people’s fingers. He may never top the freshness and immediacy of Rushmore when it was released, but aside from that, The Grand Budapest Hotel could well go down as his best film.