Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Peculiar and Picturesque.
I’ve taken a few classes on the subject of photography, and it’s given me quite the fascination for the art. I’ve bought different cameras throughout the years and really learned the trick of the trade. It’s a whole other ballpark in relation to film, which is why it’s always interesting to see these two artforms collide with each other in effort to make a truly beautiful movie. However, as much as I appreciate both arts, I’m not always the biggest fan of when they try a photography-centric film. The Grand Budapest Hotel is very much a beautiful, photography-centric movie, without a doubt…I just wonder if the story itself was any good.
The story, at the heart, is about how a man named Zero Moustafa became the owner of a hotel, obviously named The Grand Budapest Hotel. This thing is massive, and apparently equal in parts to being both popular and mysterious at the same time. We are sent into the past and we watch the events transpire as Moustafa and his teacher of sorts, M. Gustave, go through the trials and tribulations of an epic adventure full of life, love, prison escapes, and boys with apples.
Before I talk more in-depth about the plot, it’s obvious for this film that I must begin with how it looks and feels, because without a doubt – that’s the most important element. The film starts sort of like Lemony Snickets: A Series of Unfortunate Events, complete with Jude Law narrating a novel with descriptive words and everything, and then it goes into the real story. The film is split up into three different aspect ratios to keep things separated. There is your typical 16:9 beginning, which turns into the ultra-wide scenes with Jude Law, and 3:4 fullscreen is used for a majority of the movie. I want to first say that the use of aspect ratios is weird. It feels really inconsistent and warps my mind a little, but I did like the use of the fullscreen.
Having a fullscreen film nowadays versus the standard ultra-wide we normally see is a hugely great difference, and they definitely took advantage of the confined area to film in, if not over-exaggerated it for the purpose of looking even more picturesque, and it does look really nice. If they used the Rule of Thirds usedin photography, it would probably fit in every scene. That’s not really a bad thing, because it really does turn into one of the most beautiful movies of our time, easy. The problem arises in if there is a good plot or not.
Apart from the beautifully crafted shots, there was also a lot of big names throughout the film. I won’t ruin it for those of you that haven’t seen it, but it got to the point where each additional scene has you questioning who else, if anyone, will show up in the next scene. The whole thing is quite peculiar, but it all fits in rather well for what they were going for, so I definitely have to commend them on that. However, when I look deeply into the actual story, I’m not sure if I actually care for it. It’s an adventure, and a lot of things happen no doubt. Peculiar things that you couldn’t predict, but I can’t explain it. Sometimes I had trouble following the story, sometimes I wish it went a different route, sometimes I flat out didn’t care what was actually happening, but the way they went about it was brilliant.
If you are a lover of the art of photography, this movie will astound you. There was a lot of creative thought that was put into making this movie look nothing short of perfect. The Grand Budapest Hotel also did a phenomenal job at piecing together an appropriately peculiar story, making it a very satisfying and memorable flick.
This is one of those features that made sure the focus was primarily on what the movie looked and felt like rather than have a good story. They pieced it together amazingly, and made sure the story itself worked tremendously well, but when you break it down and just look at the story, I’m not sure it was enough, or rather – was as perfect as how the movie looked. So in essence, it was a little inconsistent.
Johnny Depp was Wes Anderson’s initial choice for the role of M. Gustave.