Wes Anderson creates another charming masterpiece.
2014 | 99 minutes | Dir. Wes Anderson | Fox Searchlight
Anderson’s latest film comes in the form of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Most of the film takes place between World Wars I and II in Europe. The hotel itself stands in Republic of Zubrowka, a fictional alpine state. Everything about The Grand Budapest Hotel will charm you, from its concierge to its extraordinary pink hue.
Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) begins his career at the Grand Budapest as a humble lobby boy under the watchful care of head concierge Gustav H (Ralph Fiennes). Gustav H has a special relationship with wealthy aristocrat Madame D (Tilda Swinton). When Madame turns up dead just days after visiting Gustav, suspicions in her greedy family rise. Madame wills her most valuable asset, a painting with Mona Lisa- like intrigue called Boy with Apple, to Gustav H. Madame’s eldest son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) won’t stand for it. Gustav and Zero defiantly steal Boy with Apple from Madame’s chambers. Dmitri sets out to frame Gustav for the murder of his mother and convict him for stealing the painting. Zero goes from lobby boy to partner- in- crime as he and Gustav live life on the run.
The film’s beginning drags a bit because of the story- within- a- story motif, but picks up once the main story begins. Grand Budapest is funnier, more lavish, and more high- stakes than anything Anderson has ever attempted. The film was inspired by the work of Austrian writer Stegan Zwieg and filmed on location in Germany with the help of German production companies, so it has a distinctly European feel. The sets and special effects in Grand Budapest are deliciously old- school. Anderson approaches filmmaking with the care and attention to detail found in expert craftsmen. It’s like The Grand Budapest Hotel is a beautiful marzipan tart and Anderson is the baker, adding decorations in painstaking detail.
Anderson casts character actors and actors that are just plain characters, like Bill Murray and Jeff Goldblum. Grand Budapest feautures an ensemble cast including Murray, Goldblum, Jude Law, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Adrian Brody, Edward Norton, Saiorse Ronan and Lea Seydoux. Ralph Fiennes deserves an Oscar for his performance as Gustav H. The affable concierge embodies the spirit of manners as the most self- assured bumbler the world has ever seen. Tilda Swinton dons makeup by Oscar- winning makeup designer Frances Hannon, making her look 60 years older. Unknown actor Tony Revolori has the perfect face and the comic timing to back it up. You wonder where Anderson finds these kids.
Actors are important in this film, too. Like most of Anderson’s films, Grand Budapest is a story about its characters. The entire films plays as a homage to Gustave H, who spends his life appreciating those around him. The story reminds us that no matter what happens to the people around us, personalities are a wonderful thing, and our friends transcend death and absence.