If you were to ask me, gun to my head, what I think the interior of Wes Anderson’s home contains, I would answer: dioramas, a train set that could circumnavigate the globe four times, and a secret room filled with Advent calendars (and only Advent calendars). That, or completely unfurnished, Jobs-style. Just some walls and a whole bunch of broccoli. I’m sorry. What were we talking about? Oh yes. The Grand Budapest Hotel.
I first caught wind of this project months ago, while settling into a viewing of Gravity (or, as it’s sometimes known in my house, “Space…?“). Why a trailer for TGBH would run before a Bullock blockbuster is beyond me, and perhaps my memory is all wrong, but let’s just go with it. The trailer was well-received by the affluent, predominantly white crowd that evening. And let’s face it: that demographic is cake to Anderson. And this movie is like an elegant trifle you don’t want to eat because you know, deep down inside, if you partake, it will disappoint you, because there’s no way it’s as lovely inside your mouth as it is outside of it. Like how really elegant-looking wedding cakes almost always taste bland, and the kind of homely ones usually taste pretty spectacular. (Please vote in the comments section whether or not you’d like me to write a long-form article on the nuances of wedding cakes, and how they serve as a metaphor for ephemeral versus lasting beauty.)
All the favorite players make an appearance (your Wilsons, your Swintons, your Bill Murrays), and Alexandre Desplat’s score is there to jauntily scoot you along from one madcap set piece to the next. But keep in mind that TGBH is a dark comedy (whose villains don’t really show up until about an hour in), and, for the most part, depicts the isolated adventure of two unlikely–but, as always, likable–heros: a displaced lobby boy–played by newcomer Tony Revolori who already seems to understand the culture of a Wes Anderson film–and a preening, particular, and ultimately aspirational concierge (Ralph Fiennes). The film’s most redeeming quality, though, is its melancholy, which often gets lost amidst the activity, the swirling colors, and the admirable cast of cartoony characters.
Anyway, Google can generate a million reviews for you in half the time it takes to blink your eye, so I’ll spare you an in-depth assessment. Suffice to say, TGBH is really, really pretty, and it made sense when we all oooh’d and awwww’d six months ago because we were just tasting the
trailer frosting. As for the actual cake…let’s just say it wasn’t (spoiler alert) a Mendl’s.