The Grand Budapest Hotel
Release Date: March 7, 2014
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Tony Revolori, Jude Law, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody
Director: Wes Anderson
Studio: American Empirical Pictures, Indian Paintbrush, Scott Rudin Productions, Studio Babelsberg
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
Based On writings of Stefan Zweig
While some might call Wes Anderson’s newest flick The Grand Budapest Hotel a little ornate, and definitely a stylishly visual, few can deny how deeply the story of Zero and charismatic, vain M. Gustave H. can hit the heart. The gorgeous frame narrative that sets the story also brings with it a charm and melancholia as the film closes.
Anderson tells a fantastic tale in a fictional European town called Zubrowka, but it is nevertheless reminiscent of many of the European towns during the early 1930’s. Aspects of history are matched in the film with whimsical counterparts, and yet the audience is aware of the satire made on European history. Visually stunning in its heyday, the Grand Budapest is dilapidated the first time we enter the story, and through the narration we are brought back to a time when it was in its finest glory and manned by a very impressive concierge.
Ralph Fiennes is a superb actor, taking on the role as M. Gustave H. the hotel concierge, as well as gentleman and lothario. Fiennes’ Gustave is decidedly a high class servant who rivals Mr. Carson in diligence and Derek Zoolander in personal vanity. His Robin is Zero, played by Tony Revolori. Revolori and Fiennes have perfect chemistry together as they grow in their friendship as well as mentorship with each other. Although Gustave can be selfish, verbose, and artificial, his affection for young Zero is apparent throughout the film.
Fiennes and Revolori find themselves are partners-in-crime throughout the story, jumping from hilarious plot point to plot point, but always finding time to wax poetic and freshen up with some L’Air de Panache. But it’s not just these two who make the film, there is a magnitude of perfection in the supporting cast.
Adrien Brody and Willem Dafoe play great villains who are wrapped in black wool and menace. Ed Norton is a dedicated, yet kind, Inspector Henckels. Jeff Goldblum is a hilarious lawyer. Harvey Keitel is great as the convict Ludwig. Tilda Swinton is almost unrecognizable as the old Madame D. Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman are hilarious the concierges who succeed Gustave. Of course, there is the magnificent Saorise Ronan who plays the brave, beautiful Agatha with a wine-stain that looks like Mexico on the side of her face.
F. Murray Abraham and Jude Law play great narrators around the story, with Abraham telling Zero’s story, and Law telling us his own tale.
In addition, to the brilliant story and the talented cast, there is, of course, Anderson’s style. That beautiful dollhouse aesthetic, painted in exaggerated colors of pastels and rich purples. Part of the brilliance of the film is its ability to transport the audience into a world snowglobed away from the rest of reality. This characteristic ambiance lends itself to humor and whimsy, but never fails to deliver true emotion in the midst of such beauty.
In the end, the audience is deeply invested in the story of Zero and M. Gustave H., and the humor with the heartbreak makes the personality of Gustave that much more endearing. We enjoy a story about a vain gentleman who is not as vapid or as hollow as he appears, and his deep connection with someone he could call a friend, until the very end.
“You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.”- M. Gustave H.
Final Thoughts: Go watch this movie. If you like Wes Anderson (and shame on you if you do not) don’t wait to get a ticket and see it now. It is a gorgeous movie; both comedic as well as emotional until the very last moment. Another great film by Anderson.