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Reviews » Theatrical Reviews » The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Fox Searchlight Pictures // R // March 7, 2014
Review by Jeff Nelson | posted March 6, 2014 | E-mail the Author
C O N T E N T
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
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Writer/director Wes Anderson has become much more than just a person. In a way, he has become an adjective when describing a type of filmmaking. He's been known for his quirky style that radiates off the screen. Some absolutely fall in love with nearly everything the man makes, but others find this quirkiness to be a bad thing. I'm personally a fan of a few titles of his, although I think that his previous picture Moonrise Kingdom is a bit overrated. It's entertaining enough, but the quirkiness is on overdrive and I don't find it to be as charming as many others do. It went on to be nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Academy Awards. Wes Anderson's newest motion picture The Grand Budapest Hotel screened at a variety of film festivals before being picked up by Fox Searchlight Pictures. Regardless of whether or not you're a fan of this filmmaker's style, this is a strong piece of cinema that's well-worth checking out.

During the off-season of The Grand Budapest Hotel, a young writer (Jude Law) decides to take a vacancy. After hearing some truths from the concierge, he gets the chance to meet Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham). He's the owner of the well-known hotel, and he notices the curiosity oozing from this young writer. Mr. Moustafa invites him to dinner in order to tell his story of the hotel, which takes us back to when he was a new lobby boy under the supervision of M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes). This is a story that taught Mr. Moustafa lessons about life, adventure and friendship, which the young writer will never forget.

The Grand Budapest Hotel isn't told through one simple narrative, as it operates during three different time periods. The film begins as the writer is no longer young, as he recounts this tremendous experience that he had meeting Mr. Moustafa. This moves further back in time, as the owner answers even the more difficult questions of the young writer. However, the majority of the film takes place as M. Gustave and his lobby boy are forced to deal with situations that will test their loyalty and morale. In order to put to rest a concern that some might have, the film doesn't really take place within the walls of the hotel itself. Most of the running time follows our protagonists as they try to set everything right and ensure their freedom from Dmitri (Adrien Brody) and others, including his bodyguard, Jopling (Willem Dafoe). It constantly feels like our protagonists are in real danger, which makes for a truly gripping plot that moves along at a fine pace. You'll never want the adventures to end.

The characters themselves are quite typical for a Wes Anderson film, but they work incredibly well here. Anderson and Hugo Guinness' screenplay provides for a fair amount of character disposition, as we continue to learn about them throughout the plot's progression. I found myself becoming so genuinely captivated by these characters, that I was fascinated by who they are as people and what led them to this moment in their lives. They ultimately end up feeling more like real people than they do characters in a movie. You'll find yourself genuinely caring about what happens to them throughout. Anderson and Guinness' screenplay offers even more than that with how they craft the dialogue. This isn't strictly a drama, as they incorporate quite a bit of humor throughout the film. Most of this comes across through the dialogue. There are quite a few good laughs to be found throughout, as well as some humorous situations that make this feature even more charming than it already is. There's surely a lot of wit in The Grand Budapest Hotel that keeps the pace moving and makes for a more enjoyable experience.

This is smooth storytelling that features the wonderful M. Gustave and a young Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) at the middle of it all. There's a murder "mystery" at the center of it all, which is pretty predictable from the start. However, it isn't meant to surprise you with any twists. It's more about the journey and the themes that make this film worth seeing. There's a large sense of adventure, loyalty, friendship, and being in the moment that even hold through the darker moments. We're essentially hearing a story through a type of messenger, which is a unique way of displaying that the legacy of The Grand Budapest will always live on, even though it doesn't quite stand the same as it did all of those years ago. However, it still remains a luxurious hotel that holds such a large quantity of memories that will always live within the walls and hallways of this grand hotel.

It isn't much of a surprise that The Grand Budapest Hotel features an outstanding cast. Wes Anderson always seems to be able to incorporate a wonderful group of actors to portray his characters. Ralph Fiennes delivers an incredibly witty performance in the role of M. Gustave. He provides a lot of the humor found throughout. Not only will he make you laugh, but he has delivered such a realistic representation of this character that you can't help but become attached. Tony Revolori is impressive as Zero Moustafa. He doesn't have a lot of previous experience as an actor, but this is a great performance that will surely get him more work in the future. He creates such a natural bond with Fiennes in order to establish a realistic friendship that will remain fresh in your mind for quite some time after the credits are done rolling. Adrien Brody and Willem Dafoe are fantastic in the roles of Dmitri and Jopling, respectively. They're wonderful antagonists that come across as real threats. They portray a great sense of energy on screen, even when they aren't delivering dialogue that lets us know to be afraid of them. There are a lot of phenomenal supporting roles that really improve the picture's atmosphere, even though they don't receive a lot of screen time. This includes F. Murray Abraham, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and more. There is absolutely nothing to complain about here.

Not only does filmmaker Wes Anderson have his own style of filmmaking, but he also has a very unique sense of visual design. This is especially apparent in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Every environment and atmosphere found throughout the picture is incredibly fitting. For example, as we're being shown the way up to the hotel, it feels as if we're looking at the introduction of a pop-up book. A lot of sequences appear as if they were taken right out of a storybook. There are a lot of bright and vibrant colors found around the hotel, although there are a lot of browns and dulled colors displayed within the home of the antagonists. These colors ultimately clash within the climax of the film. The Grand Budapest Hotel has a wonderful sense of style that works very well in the context of the material.

There is truly a lot to enjoy with Wes Anderson's newest motion picture. His famous quirkiness is still there, but it doesn't constantly hit you over the head with it, as it works with the plot instead of against it. This film successfully explores some wonderful themes, including adventure and the loyalty of friendship. It's wonderful to see the narrative being told through three different time periods, as we connect what happened and how it will affect the future of our characters and the hotel itself. There really isn't much to complain about here, as it moves along rather quickly and it will surely keep you immersed in its plot from start to finish. Once you check into The Grand Budapest Hotel, you simply won't want to leave. Highly recommended!

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