The Grand Budapest Hotel is a celebration of all things filmmaking. Director Wes Anderson, one of the most creative minds in film history, has crafted an original, witty, and emphatically entertaining experience that belongs in his top tier of work. And his bottom tier is better than most top tiers. Featuring extravagant sets, beautiful cinematography, and a knockout performance from Ralph Fiennes, this is can’t-miss entertainment.
The story recounts the adventures of renowned Grand Budapest Hotel concierge Gustave H (Fiennes) and Zero Moustafa (Revolori), a newly-hired lobby boy who becomes Gustave’s most trusted friend. Gustave enjoys attending to the sexual needs of the older women staying at the hotel. This gets him in trouble when one of them, Madame D (an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton), turns up dead and it is discovered that a priceless painting has been left to Gustave, rather than the family. When Gustave is wrongly accused of committing the murder and imprisoned, it’s up to Zero to clear his name while preventing Madame D’s family, led by the opportunistic Dimitri (Brody), from stealing the painting back.
Packed to the gills with visual and aural gags, ridiculous happenings, and flawlessly-executed droll humor, The Grand Budapest Hotel has not one wasted second. All of the Wes Anderson trademarks are place, from the beautifully over-the-top set designs to perfect, sweeping side-to-side camerawork. What sets this film apart from the rest is the energy level and Anderson’s ability to dictate the action on screen with manic zeal. The movie features several action scenes, the best of which is a cartoonishly insane ski/sled chase that gloriously defies physics. Anderson keeps a surprise in store for every scene, be it a sight gag in the corner of the frame or a bout of unexpected violence. It all works together like a seasoned symphony.
Ralph Fiennes brings wit and humility to the role of Gustave. When he’s not wisecracking his way out of situations, he truly cares about Zero and grooming him to take his job at some point. Fiennes’s comedic delivery is some kind of art, none more so than when he’s telling Zero there may not be much of an inheritance left on the sale of the painting once they spend it all on prostitutes and whiskey. Relative newcomer Tony Revolori is splendid as the foil, whose job is basically to react to the crazy proceedings like a normal person would. A host of Anderson regulars pop up for cameos, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, and Jason Schwartzman.
Anderson continues to challenge himself in new and inventive ways with original visions and an immaculate feel for pacing, comedy, and action. A joy and sight to behold from beginning to end, The Grand Budapest Hotel is pure filmmaking delight. It’s one of 2014’s best.
Studio: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Length: 100 Minutes
Rating: R for language, some sexual content and violence.
Theatrical Release: March 7, 2014 (Limited) / March 28, 2014 (Wide)
Directed by: Wes Anderson
Written by: Wes Anderson. Inspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig.
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody