The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the legendary adventures of the slavishly devoted and grandiose concierge Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and his new lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori) in a much earlier time in Europe, a more halcyon time. Gustave is well known among his upper class clientele for fulfilling their every desire when they stay at The Grand Budapest Hotel. When one of his visitors, Madame 'D' (Tilda Swinton) seems fearful for her life after leaving, Gustave reassures her and off she goes, only a short while later Gustave learns that Madame 'D' has 'died'. So Gustave immediately takes his lobby boy and heads off to her wake so he can say his final goodbyes to the hideous, but affluent Madame 'D'.
Gustave and Zero inadvertently hear the reading of her will when they're there, and to their surprise Madame 'D' has left Gustave a highly valuable painting which enrages her family, especially her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) to no end. In a fight, Gustave and Zero manage to escape with the painting 'Boy with Apple'. It's not long until Gustave is arrested by the coerced testimony of the butler for Madame 'D', Sergei X (Mathieu Amalric) and Gustave is sent to prison for the crime of murder. So it's up to Zero and his resourceful bride Agatha (Saoirse Ronan) to help mount a prison break and to prove Gustave's innocence of the Madame's murder. Along the way Gustave and Zero will encounter a multitude of obstacles and odd characters.
Wes Anderson is probably one of the most visually distinctive and recognizable directors working today, an auteur in other words, and The Grand Budapest Hotel cements his place as one of the most preeminent auteurs working today. For me, Wes Anderson can be a bit hit and miss, but The Grand Budapest Hotel was such a delightful and delectable experience. I was amazed, mesmerized and enchanted by The Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson has a way of making his movies feel like a storybook, and in no other movie of his is this more apparent than in The Grand Budapest Hotel... possibly Moonrise Kingdom too. The Grand Budapest Hotel's narrative is book-ended by two jumps ahead in time which added a touch of melancholy and poignancy to the movie.
Aesthetically speaking The Grand Budapest Hotel feels like a little children's innocent storybook, full of quirky caricatures, lovely colors, the splendid production design, the immaculate miniatures, the wonderful score, the evocative cinematography, the playful and witty dialogue, but then it's also punctuated by moments of extreme violence, sheer brutality, coarse language and oddly casual sex scenes. It all makes for a very unique, enthralling, often shocking and utterly intoxicating experience.
At one point in The Grand Budapest Hotel Gustave is rambling on about how there's still remnants of manners and politeness left in the world after he was roughed up by the military, only to be rescued by a man called Henckels (Edward Norton). It turns out that Henckels stayed in The Grand Budapest Hotel when he was a boy and he remembers Gustave and is now a high-ranking military official that gives him a pass and promptly apologizes.
Gustave is trying to maintain his snobbish composure with Zero after the fact, until he just stops mid-sentence and says "oh, fuck it." and has a swig of his drink. It's moments like these that come semi-regularly that sort of snap me out of the lullaby of that is The Grand Budapest Hotel. There's not enough moments like these to make you expect them or see them coming, but there's just enough to keep you on your toes. Every scene and every sentence was a surprise and the thorough unpredictability of The Grand Budapest Hotel is what kept me engaged.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a fantastical, wry and slightly farcical black comedy like no other. I wasn't sure if Ralph Fiennes could handle a comedic role like this one, but Ralph nailed it, kudos to Tony Revolori as well as they played off each other sublimely, the entire cast is simply stellar. While I was watching The Grand Budapest Hotel I felt as if I were being transported into an alternate universe for a moment. All filmmakers should aspire to make movies that evoke feelings from the audience like The Grand Budapest Hotel did for me. This is what cinema is all about!
Written by - The Sentry - 03/09/2014