Sunday, March 16

The Grand Budapest Hotel Review

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dir: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Edward Norton, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, F. Murray Abraham, and Saoirse Ronan

There is a particular quality that you get from a Wes Anderson film. Quirky, unique, distracting, however you want to describe Anderson’s style, it’s unlike anything you are likely to experience in the movie theater.  “The Grand Budapest Hotel”, Anderson’s eighth feature film, is a crime caper involving a stolen painting by an eccentric concierge and his protégé. Anderson may well have crafted the film that embodies the culmination of his style and narrative inclinations offering an enjoyable and fun adventure.

The film is set in the fictional former republic of Zubrowka. An author (Tom Wilkinson) is reminiscing back to his younger self (Jude Law) and an encounter he had with a lonely multimillionaire named Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) during the late 1960’s in a ramshackle hotel known as The Grand Budapest. Zero discusses the famed hotel’s past during the 1930’s when he started as a young lobby boy under the guidance of a respected concierge named Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), a refined philanderer of wealthy women visiting the hotel. Zero does his best to keep up with the regimented Gustave who oversees every decision in the hotel. Gustave, amongst the many women he courts, has a special attachment to woman named Madame D. (Tilda Swinton) whose peculiar death instigates a mystery with Gustave and Zero in the middle.

Wes Anderson saturated every frame of this film with his patented style, more so than his last film “Moonrise Kingdom”. With quick zooms that pulled on characters throughout and a camera that sashayed with the motion but also maintained frame while objects moved almost chaotically through screen.  Establishing shots were composed with matte paintings and rear projection; action was a creative mix of stop-motion animation that felt seamlessly utilized. It was classic filmmaking that is seldom used in this digital age. While some viewers might find all of this technique distracting, and in some of Anderson’s former films it was, however it served a specific purpose here. The technique was more part of the storytelling; pulling the viewer with every zoom and slide further into the mystery Gustave and Zero were a part.

The performances were fantastic. Ralph Fiennes gave Gustave a heartfelt comedy while also being charmingly funny. His offhanded remarks and sly gestures offered some laugh out loud comic moments. Tony Revolori was exceptional as Zero, playing off Gustave’s large personality with initial subordinate obedience that changed into confident leadership. The remaining cast was also good, some as delightful cameos from past Anderson films. While others, like Adrian Brody and Willem Dafoe in villainous roles or an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton, in larger roles committed to the characters with great results.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” had an underlying dark historical feature. One filled with the sorrows of war-ravaged countries of past and the suffering of the people who lived through such terrors. Anderson’s wistful and zany adaptations, along with his usual narrative theme that typically reflects a loss of innocence, didn’t always blend well in minor ways to the harsh gravity of reality intertwined within this film. Still, while this film may have offered more maturity than most of Anderson’s films, it was undoubtedly also one his best.

Monte’s Rating

4.25 out of 5.00

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