I’m so glad I don’t dislike Wes Anderson movies anymore. I realize that’s an antagonistic way to begin a blog post, especially one I intend to be inherently positive one, but it’s the truth. I watched this movie with complete joy, and also with the complete realization that there were things in it that would have bothered me five years ago, and no longer do. The plot is twisted enough to surprise you, but straightforward enough to catch all of the details. A clean caper, and a deliciously profane one at that.
Past me was so caught up in the deliberate aesthetics of it all, and the general asshattery of the conversations that Anderson’s movies would incite. Current me realizes that Anderson doesn’t take himself so seriously that he needs to inject both beauty and deep, profound meaning into his films. The visuals suffice, the story is fun, and then you don’t have to think for a long time afterward about how much you may or may not relate to the characters. In fact, if you do relate to any of the characters in his movies, it’s likely that you lead a fanciful, ridiculous life. Wes Anderson should be on Vine, by the way. Or Instagram video, because he’d blow our minds with the existing filters.
Ralph Fiennes may have shoved his way into a completely new career as a light-hearted, effeminate dandy. Seriously, I could watch him as Gustave all day, and he’s way better at it than he ever was at a romantic lead. (And he is very good at that.) He has a Colin Firthiness about him, in that he knows exactly when to be glib and when to be aloof, and he times his behaviour perfectly. Of course, much of that timing was in the script, but he still delivered it with true aplomb. I can’t imagine any of Anderson’s usual players in that role. I’m always delighted when he works a new person into his posse.
That being said, I wish Anderson weren’t so damn loyal. It was cute to see Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzmann, and Bill Murray pop up in tiny roles, but at this point the three of them were playing the very specific, recognizable-to-the-audience roles of “people in Wes Anderson films forever.” I think I would have liked to see Edward Norton’s Nazi General-esque role played by someone else, too; he’s just not a tough guy (or not anymore, anyway). Then again, maybe he and Brad Pitt are pulling another Tyler Durden on us — Norton’s Henckels in this movie is Pitt’s Raine in Inglorious Basterds. It’s fun to think of it that way, anyhow.
I did thoroughly enjoy Adrien Brody as Dmitri, mostly because in some alternate world he really is the reedy son of reedy Tilda Swinton (who wore makeup to age her to 84). Willem Dafoe came through as his vampiric self, brass knuckles and eyeliner and all. The Twilight franchise probably kicks itself every day, only to remember how much money it made. (Yes, I just anthropomorphized a franchise.) And Jeff Goldblum almost surprised me by almost not playing himself, but dare I say his precious pipes basically guarantee that from ever happening. I don’t remember what his character name is, because it’s basically lawyer Goldblum. The man is a national treasure, to be sure, but sometimes I wonder if he must get bored playing The World’s Card, and if his voice will ever change at all.
Oh, right, the kids. Saoirse Ronan can do no wrong, and Tony Revolori has a long career ahead of him of playing any role he wants. So long as they keep the Mexico-shaped birthmark and pencil mustache, respectively, off their faces. (That was weird.)
One final note, and it’s a conjecture. Jude Law’s quiet role as the Young Author and Narrator, made me realize that he’s having a McConnaisance of his own–a Rennaislawnce, if you will. He is the British McConaughey, in that he is a supremely tan heartthrob who has chosen to age well and gracefully out of rom-coms and into roles that don’t necessarily require him to be shirtless or smiling. Of course, McConaughey is completely nailing it right now; it’s hard to beat a run like that, but Law’s recent choices have been really interesting. Sherlock Holmes, Anna Karenina, Contagion, Side Effects, Hugo… His last rom-com, in fact, was The Holiday, and what a good one to hiatus on. He fancies himself as more of a serious actor now, with occasional dabbles of action thrown in, and I think he’s completely capable of the nuance. They’re still casting True Detective Season 2, right?