The Grand Budapest Hotel (Fox Searchlight)
Rated R for language, some sexual content and violence.
Starring Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, Tony Revolori, Bob Balaban.
Written by Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, inspired by the works of Stefan Zweig.
Directed by Wes Anderson.
You are either with or against Wes Anderson. He’s the reigning ‘king of quirk,’ and if you don’t get his brand of unique humor - might I interest you in a few more Adam Sandler or Madea movies? I don’t consider myself a snob, but Anderson speaks to me; offering an understated view of the world’s absurd nature, at every level of society. His latest work of art comes in the form of The Grand Budapest Hotel, the story of a concierge who uses his influence and wit to survive geopolitical conflict in the early 20th Century.
Ralph Fiennes stars as M. Gustave, a crafty fellow who sees to the needs of the wealthy clientele of The Grand Budapest Hotel. He pays particular attention to older, blonde wealthy women, including Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), who is so enamored with Gustave that she bequeaths a rare priceless painting to him upon her untimely death. Madame D’s family, including her Type-A son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) don’t take kindly to the new inheritance, and proceed to throw Gustave in prison. Meanwhile, Gustave’s protégé and lobby boy Zero Moustafa (played in his younger years by Tony Revolori and later by F. Murray Abraham), schemes to break Gustave out of prison with the help of his new sweetheart Agatha (Saoirse Ronan) as Dmitri’s brutal henchman Jopling (Willem Dafoe) pursues them. Zero also employs the assistance of the ‘Crossed Keys’ society, a band of hotel concierges including the likes of Bill Murray. All this takes place among the backdrop of Europe on the brink of war, which complicates Gustave’s plans even more.
There are many other great characters in The Grand Budapest Hotel – played by the likes of Wes Anderson ‘usuals’ Edward Norton, Owen Wilson and Jason Schwartzman.
Even with such a grand group of comedic actors, it’s Fiennes who carries the movie and provides the perfect combination of panache and hilarity, even though he may not be anyone’s first choice to play a leading role in a comedy. Fiennes is very funny, providing plenty of physical comedy without missing a single hysterical cue in Anderson’s clever dialogue.
There’s also a humanity in the movie (inspired by a few stories by Austrian writer Stefan Zweig) that makes The Grand Budapest Hotel one of Anderson’s best ever. Many will (and perhaps should) see Anderson movies as an acquired taste, but if you can appreciate how stupid people can be while under duress, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a fine establishment.