Title: The Grand Budapest Hotel
By: Scott Rudin Productions
Seen on: February 23
I was lucky enough to see The Grand Budapest Hotel on the day it made its world premiere, February 23 2014. It was such a big deal, there was a man in a suit with night vision goggles, checking that we weren’t making any recordings of any kind. A tad bit much if you ask me, but hey, whatever floats the distributor’s boat!
When you go see a Wes Anderson film, you know you’re in for a treat. Whether it be cinematography or story or acting or music, Wes Anderson films are always a feast. In this case it is both cinematography and style that steals the attention. Not that the actors aren’t any good, they are in fact all magnificent, but it is a visual wonderland that stuns and amazes and impresses.
I don’t know how to exactly describe the style of this film, but it is a combination of the old Pink Panther films and the old Pink Panther cartoons. It’s as if real actors are in a cartoon, acting their parts in stop motion. It reminds me of the Adams Family, but in color. Jerky, square, strange close-ups and wide shots, paper clippings on film, and the circus. I know it seems like a jumbled mess, but in the hands of Wes Anderson it is something brilliant. It is quirky and weird and funny and colorful, and I loved it.
Not just the visual style is impressive, the story is fun and entertaining too. It is being told by a big cast of big names, from Bill Murray to Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, and many, many more. Most of them have really short parts, but they all serve a purpose and are equally amazing. Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori are the main characters of the story, with Jude Law and F. Murray Abraham as the narrators. The story they narrate tells the adventures of M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and Zero (Tony Revolori), the concierge and lobby boy of the famous and legendary Grand Budapest Hotel.
When regular guest Madame D. (Tilda Swinton in fantastic make-up) gets murdered, she leaves a valuable painting to M. Gustave. Her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) doesn’t agree with that part of the will, and tries to prevent M. Gustave and Zero to take it with them to the hotel. They decide to steal it, which kicks off a chain of ridiculous events, leading to the incarceration of M. Gustave, his escape aided by some very unlikely characters, a pile of dead bodies, and numerous misunderstandings. It is a fast-paced, fun, vibrant ride with a big, fat wink at every turn. It is a masterpiece.
Ralph Fiennes’ M. Gustave steals the show with his quirky, yet direct and open nature. He lives for his job and does everything to keep his guests happy. Everything. He basically shags his way to their wallets and hearts, whether they be men or women. He swears by discretion and manners, but all is fair in hotel business and customer service behind closed doors. That contrast is what makes him so strange and fun to watch.
His new lobby boy Zero is us. He has no idea how to deal with M. Gustave, so he just goes along with it. Zero is a refugee, we find out he has a bit of a dark past, but it is never too dramatic or emotional. It makes Zero human, it makes you care for him, so you never forget you’re still watching real people. It is a tight rope Wes Anderson walks between fantasy and reality and Zero is the bridge between the two. I had never heard of Tony Revolori, but I adored him as Zero.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is beautiful. It is a gem, it is stunning and gripping and fun, and I recommend it to anyone that loves film or cartoons. It is gorgeous, magnificent, lovely, sweet, hilarious, and if that doesn’t get your butt in the seat to watch this, I don’t know what does.