Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) is an interesting film for a number of reasons. I admit that as I was watching it, I thought it was much older than a 2014 release, which shows how little I keep up with the film industry. I also had no idea it was a comedy, so when funny things started happening it was a welcome surprise.
I think that one of the most interesting choices made in this movie is the fact that the form if its narration has several layers. This isn’t simply a guy talking about a hotel. This is (to my admittedly limited understanding) the last writings of a famous author, who spoke directly to the last owner of the hotel, who has an amazing story to tell about what it was like in its prime. This many layers of distance adds a layer of mysticism to the entire concept of what the hotel “is”, implying that any story to come of it would have to be amazing. It does somewhat retract from its accessibility, as this many flashbacks makes it hard to understand which characters/plot threads are actually important, but this is dispelled once the narrative of the busboy is introduced and the movie sticks to it.
Another amazing thing that this movie does is play with the color palette. The different scenes in this movie all play important roles in what they mean for the plot, such as the whites, pinks, and reds of the Budapest Hotel, or the dark greys and blacks of the prison. Anderson uses these sets and color palettes to mirror the mood of both the scene and the characters, and I would go so far as to say that he uses this to imply that Agatha and Zero are meant for each other, because the bakery Agatha works at is also characterized by pinks, when most of the other major sets are contrast from the setting of the Hotel.
Grand Budapest Hotel also uses lots of cutting, especially during heavy action, to keep the pacing of the scenes. This is not a heist movie, so when something akin to a heist happens, they don’t bother to explain to the audience what the plan is, they just show the plan in action with lots of cutting and edits to make this scene happen quickly. Since this is a comedy movie, it also allows ample opportunity for humor.
It’s important to note that while emotion is not the focus of this movie, Anderson does a great job at slowing the pacing when he wants the audience to feel some, such as Zero watching Gustave insult the soldiers for daring to touch his busboy, or later when Zero confides his past in Gustave. These lapses in the pacing of the scene never last long enough for the audience to breathe and think “Oh, this movie is really hitting at something here”, but instead are meant to slow us down and remind us that, while this movie is funny, these people are normal and well-rounded, not caricatures. This raises the stakes and increases the verisimilitude of the character’s actions.
I thought this movie was a load of fun, and it’s a nice movie to sit down, relax, and have fun with, though it certainly deserves its R rating.