Review

The Grand Budapest Hotel is the culmination of director Wes Anderson’s career in cinema, which has ultimately led to what may be his best and most personal work.  The worlds Anderson creates in his films are all very unique but seem to take place within the same universe.  Since Bottle Rocket, Anderson has always had surreal elements in his films, but taking a note from Moonrise KingdomThe Grand Budapest Hotel takes a more cartoonish surreal slant that fits with the story and lightens the overall tone of the film.  As with every Wes Anderson film, some are going to hate it while many more will love it.  There are very few directors who can break almost every cinematic rule and are still able to make something unique, well-acted, and beautifully-shot.  The Grand Budapest Hotel sees many of the actors we have grown accustomed to seeing in a Wes Anderson picture, but the two leads are new to the Wes Anderson Cinematic Universe.

Ralph Fiennes stars as M. Gustave H., skilled and eloquent concierge at The Grand Budapest Hotel.  Under his wing is protege Zero ( Tony Revolori), who respects Gustave and considers him his idol.  Taking place in 1932 on the brink of war in surrounding territories, Gustave is only concerned with the patrons of The Grand Budapest, for which he has an incredible amount of pride.  Gustave runs the hotel in a very precise way, and that includes courting a series of old wealthy ladies, one of whom died under suspect circumstances.  Madam D (Tilda Swinton), an extremely wealthy patron,  spent her last night at The Grand Budapest with Gustave, who she was extremely found of.  In her will, she bequeathed ‘Boy With Apple’ (an extremely rare and priceless piece of art) to Gustave, and her family can’t believe she left this painting to a stranger.  Madam D’s son Dmitri Desgoffe-und-Taxis (Adrien Brody), is hell-bent on revenge as Gustave becomes the prime suspect in the murder of Madam D.  With the help of Zero, Gustave goes on the journey to prove his innocence and escape those who want to see him dead.  Along the way Zero and Gustave’s relationship flourishes as Zero goes from protege to friend.

After two movies rated PG, Wes Anderson jumps back into the world of the rated R comedy.  The subject matter in The Grand Budapest Hotel is much darker than most of Anderson’s previous works, but the surreal tone of the film lightens the mood.  The Grand Budapest Hotel is much more in the vein of Moonrise Kingdom, which I felt took a larger than life approach and isn’t as dry as some of his earlier works.  Expanding the ideas from The Royal TenenbaumsThe Grand Budapest is an even larger structure and Anderson has even more control of the details that immerse the audience in the film.

GHB_0002 20130130.CR2The color palette, as with every Wes Anderson film, is very unique and consistent throughout the entire film.  For every movie, Anderson picks a couple of principal colors that will be featured in whatever world that movie is creating.  The purples, pinks, and reds all build this world and offer something visually that has never been done before.  Every Wes Anderson film features different color palettes yet they are always consistent and give each film its own look.

There are certain directors that can get any actor they want, and Anderson is one of them.  Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori and the relationship of Gustave and Zero is the main focus of the film.  Ralph Fiennes is fantastic as Gustave, playing the dry humor to perfection, yet displaying the 30′s class and elegance required for the role.  Almost every character in the film is a big name actor.  Here’s a quick rundown of the people you will see in the film: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrian Brody, Willem Dafoe (who is fantastic in the role), Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, Bob Balaba, and Tony Revolori.  Every actor embraces the good fortune that they’re in a Wes Anderson movie, and you will see performances by actors very different from what your used to getting from them.

Inspired by 1930′s comedy, Wes Anderson shot the movie with this in mind, but also used his classic camera techniques that set him apart from every other director in Hollywood.  The Grand Budapest Hotel is the culmination of 20 years of filmmaking, has an incredible cast, and employs the constantly incomparable perspective in the way Anderson approaches filmmaking.  The shots Anderson elects to use are not your typical shots seen in most films.  Expect your classic Anderson dolly shots, quick turns, and wide shots, but with more precision than ever before.  The script is sharp (with Anderson being the sole screenwriter), and the directing is even sharper.  Ralph Fiennes carries the film, and makes for one of the director’s most memorable characters.

The Grand Budapest Hotel opens in theaters March, 7 2014.



About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.