While it would be naive of me to suggest that The Grand Budapest Hotel is perfect, it is as painstakingly and carefully constructed a piece of film as I have perhaps ever seen.
There are those who would argue that 1998's Rushmore is Wes Anderson's undisputed magnum opus but I am of the belief that with each new piece of work he releases, he only extends and surpasses all that he has done before.
As his repute has grown so too have his ambitions, budget and skill as a filmmaker, meaning that sixteen years after Rushmore was originally released, we get to see a truly unadulterated, unrestrained representation of Wes Anderson's imagination.
And it is wonderful.
Comedy is such a difficult genre to get right. A joke that will make one man laugh may make another sigh and so often a fixation on gags or witty dialogue can jeopardise what may have otherwise been a commendable narrative. This has however never been the case in Anderson's work and his latest offering does nothing to change that.
The fact of the matter is that this film is incredibly funny. Whether it's an exchange of droll yet sincere dialogue between Fiennes' concierge and Revolori's lobby boy or an absurd punch-up at the reading of a will, much of the film has the potential to illicit laughs from even the wettest of blankets. Even in the film's darker moments, there's a strange sort of comedic overtone, a feeling that even the most serious things aren't actually that serious.
Forgetting the comedic side of things, the dialogue in general is just spot-on. Every line feels as though it was lovingly crafted and perfectly placed. In this regard I can honestly say Wes Anderson is one of the very best.
Costume and set design are integral to both a film's believability and success but they are factors that are often overlooked. Such an injustice is simply impossible when watching this film. The set designs are colourful and striking (except when the location would render such stylistic flourishes inappropriate), without blemish or fault and the accompanying costumes are equally pristine and equally characteristic of their respective time period.
Even the way the actors move feels sharply orchestrated as if there is an exact and correct manner in which they have been instructed to do so. I can only assume Anderson has every scene mapped out precisely in his mind and aspires for an exact replication of that vision, which quite frankly only adds to the charm of the film.
I also love that the aspect ratio changes with the time periods, and I adore Anderson's use of miniatures.
For the casual movie-goer unfamiliar with Anderson, the cast will have undoubtedly been a major draw toward the film. Over the years Anderson has managed to amass an extensive network of familiar Hollywood talent and a reputation that makes him a hot prospect for everyone else.
This film sees Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Adrian Brody, Willem Defoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton and Tilda Swinton all team up with Anderson for at least the second time and while most of these roles are fairly limited, all are worthy of note.
Of course the real stars of the show here are Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori (and I suppose Saoirse Ronan to a lesser extent). It is refreshing to see Fiennes in a seldom-seen 'comedy role', if that's what this is, but he is outstanding. His comedic timing is perfect and he brings Anderson's witty script to life with vivacity. Tony Revolori is an actor previously unbeknownst to me but shines as the quiet Zero, a stark contrast to Fiennes flamboyant Gustave.
It is an impressive cast on paper but so much more impressive on screen.
I could probably spend a good deal longer outlining why I am so enamoured with The Grand Budapest Hotel, but I won't.
I haven't even mentioned the music, cinematography or plot (which are all also great), but I won't.
I could argue this is one of the finest films I have ever seen, and I might.
Thanks for reading,