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Could 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' Be Wes Anderson's Best?

Photo of Sam Adams By Sam Adams | Criticwire February 6, 2014 at 3:35PM

Critics who saw open the Berlinale say it just might be.
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Budapest

Reviews out of festivals tend towards the overheated, but if Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel is half as good as critics out of Berlin are saying, it's going to be at or near the top of his filmography. Here's what they're saying.

David Ehrlich, Badass Digest

The Grand Budapest Hotel is the film with which Wes Anderson finally answers his critics, and the message could not be clearer or more immaculately embossed in Futura on an insert shot of the most delicate stationary: "Go fuck yourselves." Anderson has been contemporary American cinema’s most hostile aesthete for well over a decade, and ever since 2003's The Life Aquatic made it obvious that the filmmaker has exactly zero interest in apologizing for his affectations, each of his subsequent projects has been met with the kind of ecclesiastical rapture and blind derision typically reserved for racist politicians and superhero movie casting.

David Hudson, Fandor

Compared to 2012's heartfelt Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel is a lark, but what an elaborately entertaining lark it is. 

Nico Hines, Daily Beast

This might just be Wes Anderson's best film; it's certainly his most thrilling. The cult director has bolstered the whimsical humor and trademark character studies with a raucous crime caper in The Grand Budapest Hotel, and it's a riot.

Mark Adams, Screen Daily

A warmly whimsical and deftly magical tale of love, robbery, murder and comedy mishaps all set against the fantastical backdrop of an imaginary central European region, Wes Anderson's beautiful and thoroughly enjoyable The Grand Budapest Hotel sees the director deliver his best film. It will enchant fans of his signature precious and warmly deadpan comedy style and draw in those who may be new to the unique Wes Anderson vision.

David Jenkins, Little White Lies

We may have inferred spurious behavioural similarities between Max Fischer, Royal Tennenbaum or Steve Zissou in the director himself -- characters as an extension of the creator's personality, as the auteurists would have it -- yet this latest work appears wholly obsessed with the mechanics and logistics of Anderson's experience writing and directing movies.

Guy Lodge, HitFix

Cast members don't walk; they glide, skip and occasionally pop into the frame as if released by a lever. The camera doesn't pan or track; it whirls and soars. The mise-en-scene is pulled into shape via an intricate operation of cogs and pulleys -- some of them visible. All moving parts -- cars, trains, bobsleds, even actors -- run like artisan-built clockwork toys. 

Tim Robey, Telegraph

Is it about anything? It wouldn't even need to be -- it has the clockwork plotting of an Ernst Lubitsch farce, whose well-oiled wheels feel like enough of a subject in themselves. But the theme, in fact, is unmissable: it's Europe, in its haughty and deluded state between the wars, and the ravaging transitions that have defined it for about three generations afterwards.

Todd McCarthy, Hollywood Reporter

As the critic Andrew Sarris once wrote of Ernst Lubitsch, the all-time master of urbane, naughty screen comedy, "For Lubitsch, it was sufficient to say that Hitler had bad manners, and no evil was then inconceivable." Anderson adopts a very similar view here.

Justin Chang, Variety

As intricately layered as a Dobos torte and nearly as rich, this twisty tale of murder, theft, conspiracy and unlikely friendship finds its maker in an unusually ambitious and expansive mood -- still arranging his characters in detail-perfect dioramas, to be sure, but with a bracing awareness of the fascism, war and decay about to encroach upon their lovingly hand-crafted world. 

Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

Wes Anderson’s dazzling new The Grand Budapest Hotel is course after course of desserts: marzipans, macarons, crème brûleé, tiramisu and profiteroles, presented with a flourish and served so promptly that you can barely catch your breath between treats. It’s not until an hour or two has passed that you realize, for all the wonderful flavors and beautiful plates, that you haven’t really eaten anything.

Eric Kohn, Indiewire

For every moment that the capriciousness threatens to derail the narrative, The Grand Budapest Hotel is sustained by an allegiance to that same outlandish imagination. 

Jessica Kiang, The Playlist

Anderson may make you crave, the way he clearly does, the kind of world in which preternaturally gifted pastry chefs turn every cake into a work of art, or fussy concierges have a secret society populated entirely by the best practitioners of their profession. It is indeed a strange thing to feel a little sad at the absence of something that you never had, but where on earth in the real world might we ever encounter such craft, such dedication to beauty, such attention to detail? Perhaps nowhere, except in a Wes Anderson movie. 

Dave Calhoun, Time Out

[T]he five-star premises of his energetic new comedy The Grand Budapest Hotel -- a wedding-cake-like, pastel-colored establishment situated somewhere in 1930s Mitteleuropa and peopled by eccentrics and lunatics -- feel like business as usual. What's different, though, is that the film's shaggy-dog, sort-of-whodunit yarn offers laughs and energy that make this Anderson's most fun film since Rushmore.

Francesca Steele, Independent

Sure, the film is a little light on characterisation... But this is more a story about story-telling itself than about individuals, about the memories that remain when the building crumbles, and like M. Gustave, it is, though undeniably narcissistic, on the whole immensely charming.

Stephanie Zacharek, Village Voice


It’s all so tiny and adorable, in its grandiose way.... But why doesn't any of this glittering incident seem to matter? It’s quite possible that fans of Anderson, the corduroy visionary, will love it. But The Grand Budapest Hotel brought out my inner Hunca Munca, of Two Bad Mice fame: This meticulously appointed dollhouse of a movie just went on and on, making me want to smash many miniature plates of plaster food in frustration.

This article is related to: The Grand Budapest Hotel, Wes Anderson


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