In the 1950’s, my paternal grandparents bought a summer-house. It had been both a bed and breakfast as well as a weapon storage for the military before they became its owners and the house had been the victim of many a remodeling. Walls had been removed and added on, doors put in places nobody could explain and storage units placed behind and underneath absolutely everywhere. It was, to say the least, a paradise for childhood imagination and adventure. Somehow, watching The Grand Budapest Hotel made me think of it once more.
Having never watched a Wes Anderson film before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this one. I knew he had been praised by many and that actors flocked to participate in any of his creations. This, though, doesn’t necessarily say anything about the quality of the film. He was, however, a favorite of many of the people I admire so I decided I would give him a fair shot. I hoped not to be disappointed the same way I had been with Woody Allen.
The Grand Budapest Hotel centers around a young lobby boy and his experience with working a the Grand Budapest Hotel, his extravagant mentor Gustav H. and a country on the verge of war. The film documents the end of an era and the start of a new one in a way that makes you find comedy in the tragedy with characters all larger than life.
The film doesn’t pass the Bechdel test by any stretch of the imagination. I’m not sure how to feel about that. However, it is beautifully directed and poignant in a way that I did not expect. Truly a child of its time in many ways.
I remember leaving the theatre with a sense of wonder. But also guilt. Guilt at laughing when I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to. This film highlights the fact that when things are bad, they are also good. Discussing the film later with my friends, I wasn’t sure I wanted to share my observations. I wondered if I had taken the film too seriously. It had, after all, been marketed as a comedy.
I’m still not sure.
Images found via IMDB