Film-making is an intense process that requires dozens of elements coming together in a near succinct synchronicity that only very few directors have come close to perfecting. This kind of perfection doesn’t come easy either; it requires a keen eye and a sort of meticulousness that Stanley Kubrik was famous for. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a shining, gleaming, multi-colored example of Wes Anderson at his best, but also in a way we’ve never seen him before.
The Grand Budapest Hotel opens present day as we visit the monument of Zubrowka’s prized author, but are then transported backwards through time as we follow the birth of a story and a legend. This narrative within a narrative takes us through the story of Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), the head and seemingly only concierge of the great Grand Budapest Hotel, and his lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori). The extremely flamboyant Gustave is as much known for his service as he is for his preference of older, white, blonde, superficial woman. His most recent guest and favorite of them is Madame D (Tilda Swinton), who would come to be murdered and Gustave would be blamed.
Before Gustave is arrested, Madame D’s executor, Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum), reads out the very complicated and amended will, which awards Gustave the highly coveted painting “Boy With Apple.” Madame D’s family is outraged, but above all her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) and his hitman J.G. Jopling (Willem Dafoe), who thought they would inherit this painting. Gustave, with his new confidant Zero, leave the wake with the rightfully earned painting, but that is just the beginning of a bigger adventure including murder, mystery, and a love story with bakery worker Agatha (Saoirse Ronan).
The story is much too complex to try to accurately explain. There are complexities that can only be seen to be understood, and in this way Wes Anderson (writer/director) is a master. I had to fight the urge to start this review with a fitting poem, much like main character Gustave begins most of his conversations. Instead I’ll praise the obvious that we’ve come to expect from Wes Anderson. The way he deliberately and elaborately frames every shot is divine. Symmetry is everything, and Anderson gives us enough symmetry to fill a hundred geometry classes. The reflective beauty is only augmented by a deliciously vibrant color palette that makes every new destination a delectable treat.
At first glance, the story seems like a typical, quirky, Wes Anderson creation, but you’ll be happy to know that this is a new kind of animal all together. The almost absurdist, yet highly entertaining series of events are. As is the awkward, yet beautiful true love story. Just like Gustave’s lovers, the emotions are much more mature and refined than we’ve seen in Anderson’s previous works. He successfully handles the topics of murder and war both respectfully and comically. I was surprised with how overwhelmingly complicated this film is emotionally. The film is less of a story about kooky hijinks in a once great hotel and more a story about a boy who learned that family, love and memories are the most important things one can possess.
The usual ensemble of actors all make their appearances, and of course each is as great as the next. Ralph Fiennes plays the dichatamous poet/potty-mouthed Gustave so naturally that you could easily believe that this is how Fiennes is on a daily basis. It is also worth mentioning that newcomer to the major motion picture scene, Tony Revolori, played the doe-eyed, bewildered Zero to perfection. His “Sancho Panza” was a perfect complement to Fiennes “Don Quixote”.
The Grand Budapest Hotel isn’t a film you can just go see. Once you check-in, you won’t be able to check-out, not that you would want to anyway. Just sit back and enjoy the amenities, because they are plenty.
RATING: ★★★★★★★★★★(10/10 stars)
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