Classic Movie Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Posted: July 20, 2014 in Comedy, Movies, Romance

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In 1932, M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) is a concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel.  Gustave takes a young lobby boy named Zero (Tony Revolori) under his wing and trains him to be a more professional lobby boy.  Gustave has a proclivity for dating older women.  One of the older women he’s dating, Madame D (Tilda Swinton) ends up dead.  Madame D leaves Gustave a priceless painting, Called Boy With Apple and Madame D’s son, Dimitri (Adrien Brody) suspects Gustave of murder.  Moreover, Dimitri produces a witness produces a witness named Serge X (Mathieu Amalric) who implicates Gustave in the murder.  Gustave is imprisoned by police officer Henkels, (Edward Norton)  but breaks out of prison with the help of Zero and his girlfriend, Agatha.  (Saoirse Ronan)  The fugitive Gustave is hunted not only by Henkels by Joplin (Willem Dafoe) a hitman hired by Dimitri.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a very intricate movie, the viewer must follow the story very closely to fully appreciate the humor and pathos of the movie.  Some of the comedy is broadly absurd, some more subtle.  Underneath all the humor this is a story about the relationship between Zero and Gustave which starts out as a mentor mentee relationship, and evolves into a close friendship.  The dialogue is typical Wes Anderson, stilted sentences, deadpan delivery, and a new wrinkle a lot of cursing for comedic effect.  I’ve seen a lot Wes Anderson films, some I’ve liked, others not, but this and Moonrise Kingdom are two of his best.

Anderson is a very visual director, every frame of this movie is infused with bright, vibrant colors, which is a hallmark of all his films and make his films stand out in comparison to other films.  The animated exteriors add to the whimsical, ethereal nature of the film.  Anderson has done animated exteriors before in movies like the Life Aquatic, but not to this extent.

The acting is superb, led by Ralph Fiennes, who is hilarious as Gustave the concierge. He often waxes poetic in the movie only to be interrupted by more urgent circumstances.  Fiennes shows a lot of range in his relationship with Zero, he is almost a surrogate father to the young immigrant.  Adrien Brody is as lively as I’ve seen him in as Dimitri, Madame D’s greedy cutthroat son.  Edward Norton is good too, as a Keystone Cop type trying to find the truth of what happened to Madame D.  Saoirse Ronan and Tony Revolori are really convincing as young lovers, falling in love in the middle of this madness, and trying to keep their love alive.  F Murray Abraham is excellent as the adult Zero, and makes a great narrator.  There are also many fine actors in smaller roles, Tilda Swinton as Madame D, Harvey Keitel,  Jeff Goldblum, Tom Wilkenson, and more all contribute to a very enjoyable film.

The Grand Budapest Hotel:  Check in, and check it out.

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