Wes Anderson’s latest feature is barmy and odd and funny and marvellous. This one looks at times like some kooky old wind up film with delightfully shoddy cable cars and downhill snow chases resembling pop up doll house parts or little figurines clunkily parading about – clearly this was how it was filmed but that all adds to the bonkers outstanding charm of the movie.
An impressive line up of actors takes part in a story spanning years tracing the death and will of an important old lady. A stolen painting is just the start of this madcap plot. The format is of a story being read and also being told. It’s sweet and comedic and full of downright ludicrous nonsense but that’s why it’s great and I loved it. Every shot looks like it could be a screengrab of a painting. The camera pans back and forth moving from one shot to go elsewhere, this helps contribute to the pacy feel of the story and the decision to have the majority of it displayed in a smaller ratio gives the film it’s whimsy nature. The aspect ratio does change three times which fits with the changing transitions of the stories being told. There is a main central story, a B plot of the story being told and then another section with the story being narrated and read silently to oneself as well! The film itself is split into different parts all having some sequence or moment in it that stands out, that looks beautiful and that makes you fall in love with the magic and insanity of film again. Anderson manages to capture some gleeful insanity in this tale and after chuckling along and admiring the cinematography you find yourself discovering the heart of the film. The core of loves and losses. The theme of war paints the landscape along the way too.
The acting from Ralph Fiennes in particular is sublime, he’s entertainingly British, eccentric and witty. The lobby boy is played by an unknown who acts opposite an ever changing roster of stars with ease and confidence. The entire cast in fact acts their designated parts well and strongly to keep the story feeling realistic – if that makes sense for such an unrealistic chain of events being shown. Willem Dafoe seems to snarl and come across like some villain archetype of the grand old age of cinema, he reminded me of his Nosferatu-like days when playing Count Orlok in ‘Shadow of a Vampire’ – teeth included. The pairing of Zero and Gustav are the strongest elements though and as we race like cartoon characters from one brilliantly set up scenario to the next you can’t help but get interested and engaged. spoilers: The prison breakout scene is completely daft but executed with genius and was one of the many highlights of the film. From visual gags at a museum (15-14 minutes till close) to the cross keys section it was utterly precise and comedy gold.
One slight issue was that some lines seemed lost as if mumbled by the actor playing Zero and there could have been more Bill Murray!
A dazzling and barmy affair that uses visuals and comedy to tell an interesting, amusing bittersweet story within a story within a story of a bygone hero and his lobby boy.