The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Rated – R
Directed by Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Adrien Brody
It has to be stated that this is a Wes Anderson film. I hate to bring it up, but there are plenty of people who simply do not enjoy his work, and of course there are many who adore his movies. I am in the latter group and therefore I thoroughly enjoyed Grand Budapest Hotel.
Here’s the setup: a woman approaches a statue in a cemetery and begins to read a book from the deceased man. We cut to Tom Wilkinson decades prior playing the author. He’s talking directly into the camera about a past experience he had. The film then flashes back another 20 years to the lobby of the Grand Budapest Hotel, a once great and famous landmark but now is barren. The author, now played by Jude Law, interviews Mr. Mustafa (F. Murray Abraham) who is the hotel owner. Mustafa then tells the author of how he became the owner. We flash back to the 1930s and finally get into the bulk of the story of when Zero Mustafa was just a lobby boy at the hotel, working for M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes).
Gustave and Mustafa go one quite the adventure, stemming from an elderly woman that Gustave was romantically involved with who ends up dying. In her will she passes down the priceless work of art, “Boy with Apple” to Gustave, which greatly upsets her family especially Dmitri (Adrien Brody) and Jopling (Willem Dafoe). They go to great depths to try and regain the painting back from Gustave.
Grand Budapbest Hotel is a fast-paced film mainly because you don’t know what direction the film will turn to next. One minute it’s a master and protege story, then it’s a prison break story, then it’s a story about young love, and it somehow finds a way to fit in a chase scene and a shoot out. Expect nothing less from Wes Anderson, who masterfully weaves every scene in and out with confidence and style. Sure, it’s a bit slapstick and a bit quirky, but it’s definitely a film that’s on Anderson’s wall of his personal best.
It wouldn’t have been so successful without the exuberant performance of Ralph Fiennes. Gustave is always the perfect gentleman, neatly dressed and pleasantly fragrant all the time, but he’s also a man of wisdom and being proper, which he passes down to Mustafa. Fiennes is a fireball, often speaking a mile a minute and acting out in flamboyant and cartoonish ways. It’s perfect for this film.
Like always, Anderson includes a number of cameos from the likes of Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Ed Norton, Jeff Goldblum and others. While it’s less mainstream than Moonrise Kingdom, it’s certainly address for mature audiences with a good sense of humor. I’m thankful that there are people like Wes Anderson in the movie world to provide audiences a break from the traditional Hollywood stories. With Anderson, you never know where the movie is going, but you never doubt it’s going to be anything less than compelling.