It’s nice to see a return to form for Wes Anderson. After having been pretty disappointed with his last effort – ‘Moonrise Kingdom’, for the sole reason only that for the first time he decided shift his story to focus on characters who were children, which made it feel almost a little too “family friendly” for Anderson. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I’m all one for branching out. But I’ve personally always have thought that Anderson is at his best when he’s exploring the pain and sadness of the life of being an adult (which we all know and understand there’s plenty of). That’s why I loved ‘The Royal Tenebaums’ and ‘The Life Aquatic’ so much. Of all of his films, this one reminded me of and was most closely aligned with the aforementioned 2. So it was inevitable that I would take more of a liking to it. That, and what I loved about those other movies is that they’re essentially character studies despite their large casts. In the form of both Royal Tenenbaum and Steve Zissou. Those characters were bigots, narcissists, egocentric, and self absorbed. But they were also incredibly human despite their flaws. Which allowed me to be able to relate to more and have a deeper affinity for them. But even more importantly, they were completely aware of their attributes, just not willing to admit them, which I think is very indicative of human nature in general. M.Gustav, played brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes (funny how you forget about how good of an actor is sometimes and then they come back to remind you), is strikingly similar to the 2 characters mentioned above. And he fits into and plays this role to a T. I would be very hard pressed at year’s end if his work here doesn’t garner him at least a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. It’s get the usual Anderson trademarks – sadness, absurdity, whimsy, sharply written (I don’t think I’ve seen an Anderson film yet with this level of witty dialogue), and unbelievably eccentric characters. To me it’s the absurdity of his characters and the situations in which they find themselves that I find so funny. Is it filled with laughs? That depends on the audience. Did I find it absolutely hilarious? Yes. But in Anderson’s usual high brow way. I don’t think I need to go into the fact that it’s meticulously and incredibly shot, that’s a given. So even if you’re not a fan of Anderson’s films, at the very least you can sit back and marvel in the decadence and splendor of it all.
Grade: strong B