Wes Anderson’s newest hit movie,”The Grand Budapest Hotel,” will keep you entertained throughout the entire one hour and 40 minute production. Set in the early 1930’s in a fictional country in Eastern Europe, the movie is centered around a magnificent hotel painted as pink as the signature Mendl’s pastries that the characters frequently ate. The setting provides the audience with the feeling that all the craziness is supposed to be completely normal, which allows for imagination, a great deal of humor and some foul language. Personally, I tend to find movies a bore, but “The Grand Budapest Hotel” kept me interested and laughing the whole way through.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” recounts the story of a hotel concierge, M. Gustave, played by Ralph Fiennes (who most movie-goers would know as Lord Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” series). Alongside M. Gustave is his trusted lobby boy Zero Moustafa, played by newcomer Tony Revolori. If you are a loyal Wes Anderson follower, then you will feel like you are among friends when you see the star-studded cast. With cameos from Bill Murray (what Wes Anderson movie isn’t he in?), Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Edward Norton and Jason Schwartzman, the gang is all back together in Anderson’s newest feature.
The film is told as a frame narrative, a story within a story. Anderson not only intended, but succeeded in, illustrating the story through an extravagant and lavish production. Through his dialogue and character development he created the illusion that you were listening to an important story that has been passed down through generations even if the characters were discussing Zero’s mustache.
The movie begins in the lobby of the hotel, when a peculiar man is noticed by a young writer (played by Jude Law). This man, who we later find out is the grown-up Zero and current owner of the Grand Budapest, is played by F. Murray Abraham. The young writer catches his attention and they decide to meet for dinner. And so the story begins. Thirty years later, Zero recounts the whimsical adventures he encountered while being M. Gustave’s wingman.
Zero, trained by M. Gustave, was shown how to properly run the hotel with all the etiquette and mischief that goes along with it. As you get swept away in the absurd plot of prison breaks, hidden messages in pastries and a classic chase scene staged on skis, the movie delivers both a gorgeous visual and rich plot all based around a stolen painting and a murder.
One of the most important aspects of the movie is the set design. Between the pastel colors and vintage buildings, the look of the movie ties the whole production together. Like many other Anderson films the setting gives off an almost dream-like feel. From the first scene it is obvious to the audience that every part of the movie, from the color of the hotel to the costuming, was carefully thought out. In fact, the outside shots of the hotel in the movie were filmed by shooting a fourteen by seven foot model carefully crafted by hand.
Just as important as the setting is the humor that is subtly weaved in throughout the entire movie. Anderson is a master of blunt comedy. He is able to smoothly work in jokes that can appeal to all ages. Although some of the humor is a bit raunchy, he keeps it tasteful and light. The jokes helped to keep my attention throughout the nearly two hour long movie.
Some viewers may complain that Anderson limits himself to one approach to filmmaking. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is similar to his other films such as “Moonrise Kingdom” in its nostalgic feel and over-the-top quirkiness. While I agree that it would be nice to see Anderson branch out from his regular style of fairytale-ish mysticism, it didn’t impact my overall positive perception of the movie.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is unlike any other movie that is out right now. Anderson again takes an extremely different approach when directing films that clearly shines through in the final product. From the setting to the highly talented cast to the humor, there are so many things going on in the movie, yet somehow Anderson is able bring them all together in the end. Anderson is able to magically produce an ridiculously unbelievable plot that, in the end, appears believable.