Review: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

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This one was weird for me. I missed Wes Anderson’s latest during its initial theatrical run for a couple reasons. One, it came out in early spring, a time not really known for standout prestige films. Also, I was busy busy busy finishing up my senior year at NYU. And two, I’m honestly not a huge fan of Anderson’s work. There’s always something lacking to me about his films, a style over substance issue that pervades each one in different ways. Many find his almost obsessive visual perfection charming; I usually find it exhausting.

Still, once the film started to get great notices and some year-end awards recognition, I knew I needed to check out Budapest Hotel. The fact that critics were responding so well, and that I read over and over about how the style was informed by a compelling, worthwhile plot (as opposed to some of Anderson’s other films) had me excited.

When I was home for the winter holidays, my dad and I watched the film on T.V. While I was taken with the visuals, the eclectic score by Alexandre Desplat (one of my favorite composers), and especially Ralph Fiennes’ lead performance, I once again came away somehow unimpressed by the narrative. I told my dad that it simply did not make me feel anything, a condition of a truly worthwhile movie-going experience for me (Is that a good or bad thing? I sometimes can’t tell…). Later on, in January, I sat down to watch Budapest with my boyfriend on HBO Go. As so often happens, he fell asleep.

Finally, yesterday, we sat down to watch the film again. With only two weeks until the Oscars, we always want to make sure we are as informed as possible about the nominees (Budapest received nine, a number far greater than many expected). I looked at my phone quickly and realized that the movie had, in fact, been re-released in theaters; our lazy Saturday couch date turned into a movie theater date, and I’m pleased to inform you all, I have finally become a Wes Anderson convert.

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