“A Quite Unique Moviegoing Experience”
, says who.
So, I've watched “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. Had promised to write about it, too. :-)
This is the second Wes Anderson movie I've seen, the first one being “Moonrise Kingdom”. I've never even heard of him before watching “Moonrise Kingdom” — which is quite surprising to me now. He even has a pool of recurring actors: Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton all appear in both “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, and they are but a part of the bigger team. For a director of excessively “artsy” movies, Wes Anderson has a great troupe. I should have known before.
There are some quirks in the script, but overall plot forms quite a generic, although fast-pacing, heist story. (The “story within a story within a story” feature is almost unnoticeable: it has absolutely zero effect on the overall narrative.) “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is all about visuals, music and performances. Ralph Fiennes' performance definitely outshines everyone's else, though. Visuals and performances in this movie probably have had enough attention already so I'll focus on music instead. :-) As usual, when the score is good, it is what drives the movie for me.
The score written by Alexandre Desplat (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”, “Moonrise Kingdom”) immediately reminded me about Hans Zimmer's work on “Sherlock Holmes”: nocturnal plucked strings, similar leitmotif in minor tone, even sequences of pure low bass sound suspiciously familiar. Only this is also heavily powered by melodic traditions of Russian folk (or by their popular XIX century reimaginations, at least), and is generally funnier. In effect, the music fits wonderfully with movie's pacing and framing, setting the proper tone: comedic most of the time but still sinister enough occasionally, so that you regularly become emotionally involved with characters. The (tiny) outbursts of tragedy, and even cruelty here and there, also don't feel out of place. The music is very eclectic, too: a baroque organ piece gets mixed with Russian folk in less than a minute. Despite that, the score, and the movie, both manage to have a consistent tone.
To sum it all up, simplistic quirky leitmotifs with elaborate, if not weird, arrangements and variations, perfectly accompany (relatively) simplistic quirky plot framed in Wes Anderson's recognisable shots composition, style and set design. Everything about the movie is simultaneously unnatural, farcical, haunting and beautiful, resulting in a quite unique moviegoing experience. I recommend you to not watch trailers, though: official trailer spoils a couple of great moments, IMO. Trailers are for outcomers, so if you, luckily, happen to already look forward to a new Wes Anderson movie, you don't really need one.