When the poster arrived for Wes Anderson's latest, The Grand Budapest Hotel, people couldn't help but remark how Wes Anderson-y it was. Now that early reviews are out of Berlin, that seems to be the case—and it's a great thing.
The movie, which spans four timelines and does not in fact take place in Budapest, has been getting rave reviews out of the Berlin Film Festival, where it is the opening night selection. Critics have been agreeing that while the film is a very Wes Anderson-y Wes Anderson enterprise, it maybe perhaps be the best use of the director's trademark eccentricity. "With an attention to design detail that now has perhaps morphed from a preoccupation into a mania, this is as densely aestheticized an experience as has come from a quasi-mainstream American filmmaker in many a moon," Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter writes.
So just how does the movie—which stars Ralph Fiennes in a performance people are likening to Gene Hackman's in The Royal Tenenbaums—give new meaning to the name "Wes Anderson?" Let's look at the evidence:
David Ehrlich, Badass Digest: "But The Grand Budapest Hotel isn’t the most Wes Anderson film because of how densely it delivers all of the familiar tropes and fetishes (Miniatures! Orphans! Characters dangling from high places!), no, his eighth feature is a logical leap further down the rabbit hole of his own imagination because it’s the first Wes Anderson movie that’s about Wes Anderson movies."
Guy Lodge, HitFix: "Many saw this bittersweet theme of temporary grace in 'Moonrise Kingdom,' a near-equally ornate puppy-love romance that I didn't feel nearly as deeply as 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' — perhaps because the hyper-stylized fairytale Continentalism here somehow feels more authentically, eccentrically Andersonian than the other film's nostagia-washed New England."
Jessica Kiang, The Playlist: "If nothing else (and there is quite a lot else) the film is at times perhaps the apotheosis of Wes Anderson’s aesthetic, a glorious, mischievous sequence of pictorialist plays taking place in a world so perfectly contained it might as well be in a snowglobe."
Justin Chang, Variety: "The director’s well-worn formal and tonal strategies — the exquisite visual ornamentation, the novelistic chapter headings, the pervasive sense of yearning for the past — have rarely felt as fittingly applied as they do here, bringing a lost, antiquated world to vivid cinematic life."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.