What do you get when you combine a murder mystery with a cadre of unique and quirky characters set in the backdrop of an imaginary country? The answer: a Wes Anderson movie of course! Anderson’s latest and Ocsar nominated film “The Grand Budapest Hotel” will hook viewers in its presentation and elegance, but they will want to stay for the characters and story.
Anderson is known for having one of the most distinctive film styles in modern cinema and where his previous films prove to be intriguing, they always seemed to be a bit convoluted or run just a little too long, but “The Grand Budapest Hotel” appears to be his crowning achievement to date, it does not drag, it is easy to follow, and enjoyable to watch from start to finish.
The story resembles that of Russian doll; it is a man telling a story of a man telling a story of his time in The Grand Budapest Hotel where he worked as a lobby boy. The bulk of the movie takes place in 1932 in the fictional country of Zubrowka and follows the escapade of the young lobby boy, Zero – who is played by an actor fairly new to the screen, Tony Revolori – and his boss, Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes).
The soul of the movie rests on the unorthodox friendship that forms between Gustave and Zero as Gustave takes him under his wing to train him to be a lobby boy worthy of the famous hotel. Their misadventure begins when a regular guest at the hotel, who Gustave had a relationship with, turns up dead and Gustave becomes the focus in the investigation which is believed to be a murder. What ensues is a combination of several elements that are rarely found in a single film: a heist, a prison break out, elements of drama and comedy, a love story, and others.
The themes intertwine flawlessly and all the while the characters never stop delivering. Every actor and actress that is in “The Grand Budapest Hotel” are completely committed to the project and there is no one that feels like they not belonging. Tony Revolori is the perfect embodiment of an unassuming young man with high aspirations who gets in way over his head. He wants someone to recognize his worth and he even goes as far as drawing on a moustache each morning in an effort to be taken seriously. Ralph Fiennes delivers, as always, and encapsulates the character of Gustave as a man who takes vast amount of pride in the fact that he is the concierge in the very prestigious hotel and makes an effort to always be professional and courteous, yet is sometimes very self-centered and checks his manners at the door. Other celebrity performances and cameos include: Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saorise Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, and many, many more.
The use of the camera helps add to the whimsical atmosphere of the movie. The shots and angles are sometimes swift and tracking, and other times focused and very intentional. The set of the hotel is also very charismatic, it feels like a living and breathing character and is never a question of why it would be world famous.
It truly is something that only Wes Anderson can do, his story, characters, and cinematography are all consistent and are all frivolous and inviting, yet serious and heartwarming. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” proves that even though big budget movies seem to dominate the box office, there is still a place for unique and human driven pieces, and its nine Oscar nominations seem to agree.