From the very first seconds of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” it’s clear this is a Wes Anderson film. The look, the dialogue, the premise, it has all of the wonderful things that make up this slightly off-kilter, but always fun to look at stories.
This is the story of Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) head concierge at the Grand Budapest, a hotel of (fictitious) legendary excellence during it’s glory days. A time when glamour and manners meant everything, as our world teetered on the brink of war. Gustave is the picture of grace and charm, there is nothing (emphasizing nothing) he won’t do for his guests, most of whom are much older women. When one of these women, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton) dies and leaves a very valuable painting (Boy with Apple) to Gustave in her will, her family accuses him of the worst.
Gustave is arrested, but with some help from his lobby boy, Zero (Tony Revolori), is able to escape and work to clear his name. Did I mention there’s an outrageous band of supporting characters, including, but not limited to, an inspector (Edward Norton), an assassin (Willem Dafoe), Madame D’s son Dimitri (Adrien Brody), a few fellow concierges, aka members of the Crossed Keys Society (Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman), and the lovely girl from the bakery, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan). It’s a full house.
This whole tale is through the voice of the author (Jude Law/Tom Wilkinson), whose memoir includes his retelling of this fantastic tale, and the man who told him the story, Zero (F. Murray Abraham). It’s a story, within a story, within a story, and it’s beautiful. I mean that literally. This movie is like a pop-up book for adults. The visual effects interwoven with intricate illustrations are beautiful, and the story though outrageous sounding when layed out in this manner is quite touching in the end.
Ralph Fiennes is delightful in this movie, a quality that’s not generally used to describe his roles. This is simply the most overtly joyous role I’ve seen him in, and it’s just wonderful. Putting the Oscars aside for a second, this is one of my favorite movies of the year. Picking the Oscars back up, it’s the one I’m pulling for to upset the favorite, “Boyhood.” I mean think about it, wouldn’t it be nice if a comedy won this year?
There are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity… He was one of them. What more is there to say?
Zero Moustafa in “The Grand Budapest Hotel”