Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” gets a wider release this weekend. The avant-garde filmmaker is known for his unusual perspective, both thematically and cinematically. You may recall his most recent film “Moonrise Kingdom,” holding true to that unusual perspective. His newest film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” follows along that same continuum as well as harnessing the talents of his all-star cast.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is told in parts or acts as would a play in the theater. Using narration and switching narrators where it is appropriate, the story revolves around a book written about a grand hotel nestled high in the mountains in a far away place. We are transported back in time as we find ourselves peering into the life of this young writer played by Jude Law. The hotel is not grand nor is it beautiful at this point, but the Young Writer befriends a man we find out is the owner of the property and shares quite a grandiose story. The colors on the screen become sharp, bold, and vivd as we are spiraled further back in time to when this hotel was truly magnificent and all the people who stayed there were as well.
This complex, but eloquently told story from the perspective of Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) is one of fancy and preposterous situations that all arise because of a caring man, M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), head concierge at the hotel. With his love of older (much, much older) women, he finds himself at odds with one woman’s family after her passing. The antics begin as the story becomes more and more complicated, but still following a somehow logical path. M. Gustave and his lobby boy, Zero (Mr. Moustafa) are thrown into one situation after another; delving deeper and deeper into the sordid and sometimes disturbingly violent mess ahead of them. As a viewer, your attention never wanes as you are captivated by either the gorgeously flowing and poetic language or the elegant, ornate, surroundings with vivid pops of color. Your sense of vision and hearing is constantly entertained.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” covers every possible topic. There’s love, hate, family issues, class ranking, violence, politics, greed, burglary, death, and anything else life could possibly throw at you. It’s quick pace holds you to the story line unfolding almost magically before you. This film captures the essence of a bygone and romanticized era.
The film is written in a very whimsical style punctuated by a surreal environment and exaggerations of every form, yet it is a story that captures you. This is a stylistic film. You notice the lack of color or the bombardment of it. You are very aware of the contrasting language styles as the poetry abruptly halts with a familiar and not so poetic phrase which is truly humorous. The elegance of the upper class and the thugs within it are clearly defined as with Willem Dafoe’s character of Jopling and Harvey Keitel’s Ludwig. Mr. Anderson tends to bring back actors from previous films and this film is no different. Bill Murray and Edward Norton grace the screen in true Wes Anderson style. But Ralph Fiennes shows us his ability to portray a very unique character with comedic sense and an almost father-like sensibility. His lines are complex, almost Shakespearean at times with the recitation of verse, yet still comprehendible. He’s a caring,sweet gentleman and seems to have only one purpose in life and he will fulfill it till the end. Tony Revolori plays the young Zero with the zest and sensibility of a much older actor. His nuances in timing and expressionwork impeccably with Fiennes’ honed acting skills. The pair seem to be a father-son combination and are the core of the film.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a truly lovely film full of wonder, excitement,humor, and love. Its exaggerated moments bringing the preposterous into reality give the film a Marx Brothers type of levity. It is an exceedingly creative and entertaining film—an adult fairy tale. The action is non-stop, whether it’s verbalor visual, as you are mesmerized and surprised to see what happens next. This film is rated R, but I’m predicting that it will not appeal to the teen and young twenties group.