The Grand Budapest Hotel-Review
by Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
Wes Anderson has become a name paired with quirky comedy and spirited creativity. He’s also become a director that actors tend to flock to his films, much like Woody Allen. People have either come to love Anderson’s unconventional work or they hate his style. It’s rare that you find an in-between. Anderson’s latest effort, The Grand Budapest Hotel, remains true to his known format creating a quirky world with exaggerated characters with cartoonish, surreal settings. The end result is over 90 minutes of comedic fun which isn’t quite up to the level of Moonrise Kingdom but doesn’t falter either.
The Grand Budapest Hotel begins with a girl standing by a person’s statue with a book written by that very person. We then flashback to where the author (Tom Wilkinson) is discussing his craft, relating the inspiration for his story. Another flashback to a younger author (Jude Law) meeting the owner of the hotel, Mr. Mustafa (F. Murray Abraham), who tells of how he came to own the Grand Budapest Hotel beginning in the 1930’s with he received his start as a lobby boy. Working under the guiding eye of the concierge M. Gustav (Ralph Fiennes), young lobby boy Zero Mustafa (Tony Revolori) deals with the death of an important guest. The guest leaving, in her will, an invaluable painting to M. Gustav which causes the guest’s family, led by son Dmitri (Adrian Brody) to obtain the painting by any means necessary.
The story revolves around Ralph Fiennes’ character, M. Gustav. He is the epitome of what the Grand Budapest strives to be: an upright, well taken care of, hospitality first and respectful man. Appearance is everything and one must meet all of the guest’s needs. Fiennes takes his first turn in a film by Wes Anderson and absolutely melds himself into the role and the story. He, like all characters, is rather quirky, but despite some of his antics, he is utterly endearing. And some of the best moments in the film happen when Gustav steps out of “character” in a fit of rage or anger.
Anderson also brings in other notable actors who have appeared in his other films such as Edward Norton, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Jason Schwartzman, Willem DaFoe, and Adrian Brody. Most have minor roles, with Brody, DaFoe and, to an extent, Norton, having slightly larger roles. And each fits right in to the Anderson character composition. There are other actors, like Harvey Keitel and Jeff Goldblum, who also lend their acting chops, making this a true ensemble of stars.
If one has seen a Wes Anderson film before, then you know this is not a laugh out loud comedy. The comedy evolves from the actions of the characters, their response to the situations and Anderson’s style of directing, often poking fun at society or filmmaking itself. Anderson also likes to takes elements from great films of the past, paying homage, in essence, by constructing scenes in the same fashion. The Great Escape is prominent in one particular sequence here. And while The Grand Budapest Hotel may not have the comedy reminiscent of the first Hangover, Bridesmaids, Wedding Crashers, etc, you are still more than entertained and will do your fair share of laughing as the narrative progresses.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is unpredictable to a degree as you don’t really know what direction the story will end up taking at one point or another. But with a fun story, a whole ensemble of accomplished actors, and the uncharacteristic comedy which Anderson is known for, there’s not much to dislike with the film. Of course there will be those who are not a fan of Anderson’s style of directing, and will in turn be removed from watching the film. But, for everyone else, The Grand Budapest Hotel is something worth watching as we make the push to blockbuster season.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars