The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

April 14, 2014 By Mike B
Movie Review

The Grand Budapest Hotel Film Review

What Worked?

A story about the past allows you to revisit a magical time that feels better than the present simply because the past has meaning that you can see. Wes Anderson tells the tale of famous concierge M. Gustave and his adventures with lobby boy Zero Moustafa, through the words of an old Moustafa, in his latest picture, the Grand Budapest Hotel. A talented cast, including Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Saoirse Ronan, and newcomer Tony Revolori, fill in the quirky characters birthed by Anderson.

Anderson has made another beautifully crafted film that manages to be magical and realistic in it’s own way. It’s filmed with a 1940s flair with a quirky  “keep calm” and run along style that only Wes Anderson can pull off. Beautiful tracking shots are sprinkled throughout the film, which is fitting for Anderson, and helps the film move at a brisk pace. The script, based off a story by Stefan Zweig, is comical, violent, and touching; in fact, it’s Anderson’s most action-packed outing so far. Concierge Gustave is framed for the murder of his elderly wife, Madame D, by Madame’s D’s devious son Dmitri, and the layered story takes flight from there. The quirky characters are played wonderfully by a talented cast, bringing the script to life.

Ralph Fiennes takes center stage as M. Gustave, the famous concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel, with a humble, kind demeanor and a taste for older women. He keeps the hotel running efficiently, making sure the guests feel welcome in a genuine way. Gustave is a quirky, neat character, but Fiennes gives him a soul to take him past being just quirky. M. Gustave is a man that represents a past that ceases to exist. Tony Revolori, who plays Zero Moustafa, Gustave’s lobby boy and protege, has good chemistry with Fiennes. Fiennes shines, and Revolori keeps up rather well with him and the rest of the all-star cast.

There are plenty of actors that make appearances in this film, including the usual suspects, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson, but one supporting actor that shines the most is Willem Dafoe. Dafoe plays Dmitri’s enforcer, and although he doesn’t say much, he perfectly potrays a darkly hilarious badass.

We always yearn for a better world, and for Zero Moustafa, the Grand Budapest Hotel was that world of yester-year, where everything was “better.” The good old days are preserved in the decay of a hotel that holds blissful memories for the old Moustafa, memories of his wife, of his most trusted friend M. Gustave, and of a different time that he preferred. We all have a Grand Budapest Hotel, and although we can’t stay there forever, it’s nice to remember the stay.

 Potential Drawbacks:

If you’re not a fan of Wes Anderson films and his quirky style, this movie won’t make you a fan. It’s slightly different in its pace and action, but everything else if comfortably the same. Just like a good amount of Anderson’s movies, there are several characters to juggle. Anderson juggles them well, but some viewers will have names mixed up or forgotten here and there; it’s just hard to keep track of everyone.

Anderson has enlisted the talents of Edward Norton and Adrien Brody, and they’ve worked well for him before in previous films, but in this film they just don’t fit quite as nicely. It seems like they could have done more within the story, but it kind of feels like they’re saying “hi, well, I’m here too!” when they’re on screen; however, it’s not that big of a drawback.

“You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that’s what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant… oh, fuck it”- M. Gustave

Film Recommendations:

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou

Moonrise Kingdom

The Royal Tenenbaums 


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