Last night I attended the advanced screening of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Another very quirky Wes Anderson movie, this movie recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune set against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing world.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely a Wes Anderson film, down to its very core. If you know Wes’ work from “Moonrise Kingdom” and “The Royal Tenanbaums”, then you know what style of filming and humor to expect as he creates his universe on screen. This movie’s full of colorful characters, old-world charm and witty one-liners and the color palette is beautiful. It’s refreshing to see use of bright colors when so many other films are so dark and dreary right now. The set design and costumes are perfectly thought out with attention to every detail.
The twisting tale of deceit and murder is merely a vehicle for the visuals, dark humor and rapid-fire dialogue. It’s all about a hotel concierge, Gustave H., who is being chased by various villains for stealing a painting. All this is set against the backdrop of the Nazis invading Central Europe (although they’re not called Nazis). Some of the scenes are very funny, but there is always a darker tone because of the looming war. WARNING: Grand Budapest Hotel doesn’t shy away from extreme violence, but he shows it in an offbeat and almost comical manner.
Ralph Fiennes steals the show as the sophisticated Gustave H., who never despairs, even in the most unfavorable circumstances. I’ve been a fan of most of Ralph Fiennes’ work since his phenomenal performance in 1993′s “Schindler’s List”, but this is easily his best performance since then. He proves he can do comedy just as well as he does drama. Newcomer Tony Revolori as Zero is excellent as well. I won’t get into the whole supporting cast because there’s so many who were all so great, but I was particularly impressed by Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law and Saoirse Ronan.
I recommend Grand Budapest Hotel if you enjoyed Wes Anderson’s previous movies. If you like his offbeat style you’ll love this fantastical addition to his film collection. However, if you’re not familiar with his style I don’t recommend you start with this one. Rated R for language and violence.