Wes Anderson is one of the directors whose work I enjoy most for one very simple reason: when he makes a film I know that I'm going to enjoy it.
A lot is written about the aesthetic of Anderson's work, about their quirky themes and messages. Me? I just like them because they're fun.
Fantastic Mr Fox with George Clooney providing a voice-over? Fun. The Life Aquatic... with Bill Murray on genius form? Fun. His latest work, Grand Budapest Hotel? Fun.
Grand Budapest Hotel is essentially a crime caper (love that word) that tells the story of how penniless immigrant lobby boy Zero (a charming performance from newbie Tony Revolori) becomes hotel-owning millionaire Mr Mustafa (a pleasingly world weary F Murray Abraham) with the help of the suave and sexually ambiguous M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes on excellent, campy form), his bevvy of adoring OAPs (including Tilda Swinton in some unusually convincing prosthetics as the unfortunate Madam D) and a stolen painting. Along the way they must thwart the machinations of Madam D's deranged family (Adrian Brody and Willem Defoe, suitably evil), break Gustave out of jail and escape the advance of war.
I hesitate to use the word as it's so twee, but Grand Budapest Hotel is such a charming film. It's entertaining and funny throughout, the plot is beautifully constructed and paced and it looks and sounds gorgeous. The script is Anderson at his whimsical-but-slightly-acerbic best ("You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant... oh, fuck it.") and the phenomenal ensemble cast - which also includes Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Tom Wilkinson, Edward Norton, Lea Seydoux and Harvey Keitel amongst others - plays it perfectly.
I'm a bit in love with Ralph Fiennes' M. Gustave which is a shame because a) I'm far too young and too poor for him to ever reciprocate and b) he's fictional. The relationship that develops between Gustave and Zero throughout the film is genuinely heartwarming and deftly played by Fiennes and Revolori.
Here's an increasingly rare thing too - it's not any longer than it needs to be! A huge bugbear of mine these days is the apparent lack of any decent editing on Hollywood films, but this one flies along at a good pace for just 100 excellent and entertaining minutes. I've mentioned the sound already, but the use of music is fantastic - it really adds to the atmosphere without ever becoming a distraction.
All in all Grand Budapest Hotel is a fun, quirky (as if we'd got this far in a review of a Wes Anderson film without using the Q word!) and entertaining film and well worth a watch. Go see.