Aside from Fantastic Mr. Fox, this is probably the first time I ever have felt comfortable enough to voice my thoughts on a Wes Anderson movie. This is down to a number of reasons. Firstly, I have yet to see previous work such as Moonrise Kingdom, Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums (also Bottle Rocket). Secondly, my impression of Wes Anderson films is that they are stalwarts amongst film-studies-fraternities. There seems such a technicality and all-encompassing creative approach, borrowing knowledge and theory from various artistic disciplines, that I contend with a distinct lack of resources from which to construct a satisfactory review. With Fantastic Mr. Fox I have childhood referencing on my side, drawn from a book I must have fingered through almost 20 years ago. With everything else Wes Anderson, I feel exposed. But here it goes none-the-less!
The early animated doll-house hotel sequence was typically delightful and set the tone for the whimsy and what I have come to identify as 'Wes-Anderson-ness' that followed. I was immediately reminded of Mr. Fox and his compatriots evading Bunce, Boggis and Bean; of Captain Zissou and the overview of activities on his vessel; a continuation of a now trademark, characteristic style. It works towards generating a hive of activity that we, the viewer, will shortly be placed into for absorption of the unfolding narrative.
Ralph Fiennes was utterly hilarious. Not necessarily renowned for his comic delivery, the deliberate and punchy repertoire, part script part execution, seemingly had him bagging a laugh through semi-dead-pan tone then darting off screen until he was pitched another opportunity for a home run. He duly accepts these chances and knits the movie together nicely in the process. Tony Revolori obliges as the appropriate side-kick and contributes to an endearing relationship between mentor and pupil. This touching 'bromance' and ever-increasing respect between the two is never more aptly evident than when Gustave stands to the defence of his compatriot on train journeys halted by bullish soldiers from the growing war stricken backdrop; his bloodied nose and dishevelled hair serving as a tidy visual simile for his affections.
There is something about almost every frame in Wes Anderson's creations that leads one to imagine years of storyboarding sessions wherein all inches of a plethora canvasses are meticulously poured over by the most talented of mid-century draughtsmen, resulting in a series of American Modernist images, brought to life at the wave of a directorial 'Wes-wand'. This attention to composition and framing could well fracture a smoothness of narrative, with its hard edges, rigidity and precision; but this is a carefully honed craft and one in which each element works to compliment another. (For a fine example of this, check out: Wes Anderson // Centered)
The charm and warmth of 'TGBH' (an unfortunate abbreviation in the circumstances) supersedes much of what has been released thus far in 2014. I can definitively state that this will be a fine addition to my film collection, watched on multiples of occasions for its artistic qualities as well as its highly satisfying entertainment (and also because I will watch ANYTHING with Bill Murray and/or Jeff Goldblum in it!). I encourage you to watch it. Watch it now! Or soon (if your local cinema has stopped showing it). What I have just said about it does not do it nearly enough justice.