The Grand Budapest Hotel is director Wes Anderson’s latest feature film in his critically-acclaimed repertoire. The film stars Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List, The English Patient) as Gustave H., the concierge of the hotel that the movie is titled after, and newcomer Tony Revolori, who stars as Gustave’s apprentice, accomplice, and Lobby Boy, Zero. These two main characters are supported with an ensemble cast that includes Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman, among other big-name actors.
The film in itself is very Anderson-esque stylistically and the cinematography is similar to other Wes Anderson films such as The Royal Tenenbaums and Fantastic Mr. Fox. The plot is split into linear “chapters” that play more like a visual piece of literature than of a film. The film is presented as a “story within a story” as it is told in flashback narrative by an elderly Zero to an author played by Jude Law, who eventually transcribes the encounter into a novel, over the course of a dinner in the now dilapidated Budapest Hotel, some 50 years after the events of the story originally took place.
Thematically, the film addresses concepts of friendship, love, adventure, and loyalty between the main characters and their surrounding context. Gustave H., who is a seemingly mythological and eccentric concierge, is the surprising benefactor of a priceless painting “Boy with Apple” from an extremely wealthy, 84-year old patron of the hotel that he allegedly was having an affair with up until the time of her death in the rooms of the hotel. The woman’s family is outraged by the unmasked relationship and allege foul-play on Gustave’s part after the woman’s death is attributed to homicide. Incarcerated for a good portion of the film, Gustave escapes with other convicts with the help of his Lobby Boy and attempt to clear the concierge’s name before being caught by the authorities or the wrath of a ruthless PI played by Dafoe.
While the film’s plot is nothing overly creative in its context, Wes Anderson makes up for what it lacks in the quirks and nuances that permeate the film’s duration. The dialogue between the characters is hilarious and the few moments of violence are overly gruesome and largely unexpected. These aspects of the film are what makes it such a thrill and immensely entertaining. Anderson brings out the best in all of his performers and they all steal their respective scenes with his direction. Schwatzman is in all of three minutes of the movie and has about five lines, but coupled with the excellent narration of Jude Law, is actually quite memorable, which is quite something considering how convoluted the movie and his characters become.
Overall, fans of Wes Anderson will more than likely enjoy this one. Personally, it’s hard to find fault with the picture other than it paradoxically being “too good.” Some may feel that the film is almost too formulatic as its frames are so rudimented in Anderson’s calculative style, but those who can watch it for simply what it is will more than likely feel like the trip to their local arthouse theater was worth the $10.
About the Author:
Brett Hall is currently a student at the University of Kansas studying Political Science and Business. He hopes to attend law school after graduation. He contributes on popular culture for BoomPopMedia when he is able. You can follow his twitter @bretthall7.
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