It has been almost two years since Wes Anderson released Moonrise Kingdom, and that is too long for me. I thought, after Moonrise Kingdom, that Anderson had reached his peak, and that his work would diminish in quality. Because let’s be honest, his work is pretty darn consistent for an auteur filmmaker these days. But against all odds, Anderson has been able to raise the bar for himself even higher, giving us the truly “Grand” Budapest Hotel.
The Grand Budapest Hotel may be Anderson’s most ambitious films to date, spanning several decades and featuring a huge cast. But it all still contains Anderson’s signature style, and those who have come to love it will not be disappointed.
The film follows M. Gustave, a concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel, and his lobby boy Zero Moustafa, played by the new-to-the-screen Tony Revolori, when one day, a valuable painting is left to M. Gustave in the will of Madame D., an elderly woman whom Gustave had an affair with. Dmitri, her son, and everyone else in her family becomes enraged at Gustave, who then sneaks out and hides the painting back at the hotel. He is then framed for the murder of Madame D. and sent to prison, all amidst the coming of World War II. I won’t spoil the rest of the plot, but it is some of the most intricate (and possibly most exciting) plotting that Anderson has done. I will say this though, the plot can be a bit convoluted at times, which seems to be the case with most movies involving heists and whatnot.
Anderson is not fearful of directing an all-star cast. With many of his regulars, The Grand Budapest Hotel features Ralph Fiennes, Jude Law, F. Abraham Murray, Tilda Swinton, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Jeff Goldblum Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, and many more. Don’t be confused though, this movie is only 100 minutes and therefore many of them do not get excessive amounts of screen time.
Ralph Fiennes leads the cast in one of his funniest performances ever. It is actually really nice seeing him not play some form of pure evil, whether he is a Nazi, Lord Voldemort, or Hades; so him portraying a more pleasant and helpful person is a great change of pace. His comedic timing is on point, and he also again proves his dramatic capabilities. His partner, who is played by newcomer Revolori, is great too, proving that Anderson can get great performances out of amateur actors such as Schwartzman in Rushmore, or the kids in Moonrise Kingdom.
I have to warn you, The Grand Budapest Hotel is pretty grim at times, which may make people who are unfamiliar with Anderson’s work assume that all of his films are like this, but they aren’t. Murder plays more of a role than it ever has in his films, as Willem Dafoe, the ever-dependable bad guy, plays an assassin set out to catch Gustave, with some not so pleasant endings for some body parts and lives in this film.
It is nice seeing Anderson able to balance humor and drama. His films will always hold a sort of charm that only he can achieve with all of his unique styles, but he also manages to make his films feel significantly different and unique from the last without overdoing his techniques. The Grand Budapest Hotel is no different.
So, if you are a fan of Anderson, then this is an absolute must. If you have never seen an Anderson film before, this is the perfect movie to get you adapted to his quirky and different style. It is full of action, adventure, romance, and humor, and can be considered by some the best of his works. I know that I do, but then again, Anderson is dependable and he has yet to not meet my expectations. Go see this movie, you won’t regret it.