The Grand Budapest Hotel is by far the most headlong comedic affair in Anderson's canon. It's practically Marx Brothers-ian at moments. And Fiennes - who knew he was capable of such wicked, witty timing?!
The movie's sad undertone saves "The Grand Budapest Hotel" from its own zaniness - or better yet, elevates the zaniness, making it feel like an assertion of some right to be silly, or some fundamental human expression.
Every frame is carefully composed like the illustrations from a beloved book (characters are precisely centered; costumes are elaborately literal); the dialogue feels both unexpected and happily familiar.
This is one of Anderson's funniest and most fanciful movies, but perversely enough it may also be his most serious, most tragic and most shadowed by history, with the frothy Ernst Lubitsch-style comedy shot through with an overwhelming sense of loss.
It's a filigreed toy box of a movie, so delicious-looking you may want to lick the screen. It is also, in the Anderson manner, shot through with humor, heartbreak and a bruised romantic's view of the past.
There are hints that Fiennes has it in him to portray a worthwhile human being here -- tender, smart, impulsive, humane, and witty -- but this potential is smothered by Anderson's chronic preference for guest stars and demented art direction.
This movie makes a marvelous mockery of history, turning its horrors into a series of graceful jokes and mischievous gestures. You can call this escapism if you like. You can also think of it as revenge.
In the end it's Fiennes who makes the biggest impression. His stylized, rapid-fire delivery, dry wit and cheerful profanity keep the movie bubbling along. Here's to further Fiennes-Anderson collaborations.
In a very appealing if outre way, its sensibility and concerns are very much those of an earlier, more elegant era, meaning that the film's deepest intentions will fly far over the heads of most modern filmgoers.
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.
Course after course of desserts, 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 that you haven't really eaten anything.