By Shay McCleavy
4 out of 4 stars
Imagine a screwball comedy, a noir thriller, a murder mystery and a period piece. Now roll them all together into a decadent masterpiece. That’s what you get with Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”
It is the story of Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes, impeccable in the role), the concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel located in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka during the 1930’s. After being suspected of murder, Gustave H runs away with the help of his new lobby boy, Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori, nicely earnest). They must avoid the thuggish sons of the deceased, deal with the police and hide a valuable painting, “Boy With Apple.” Helping along is an A-list class including: Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, and a collection of surprising cameos.
Director Wes Anderson (“Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Moonrise Kingdom”) is known for his unique stories, symmetrical imagery and visual flair. His use of color palettes and patterns make him a whimsical stylist and somewhat of an acquired taste. For anyone looking to find a unique and unpredictable film amidst the tide of summer blockbusters, look no further.
The look and textures of this film are like an old grandfather clock made of pastries. Pinks, blues, reds and yellows give it the look of an old silent film artificially colored. The bold colors lie in sync with equally bold performances and characters. It is as though Anderson used the spirits of silent film stars, film noir and European stuffiness, threw them in a blender, and made a rich dessert. At the center of the dessert is Ralph Fiennes giving one of the most delightful performances of his career. As the concierge of the hotel who wishes to serve, “a glimmer of civilization in the barbaric slaughterhouse we know as humanity,” Fiennes plays the charismatic man with rich gusto. He shows us the soul beneath the exterior of the prideful and sincere Gustave H.
Many whimsical films can leave you visually impressed and surprised with the creativity on display. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” does this, but slips through its meticulously constructed world to emotionally engage you. Throughout the silliness there is real weight to the experiences within the madcap tale of a hotel concierge and his lobby boy. The only noticeable problem with the film is that the opening is paced rather slowly. Stick with it, and you will be rewarded with an incredibly unique experience at the theatres.
The ambition and unique vision on display are well worth a look. I can guarantee you won’t find a film like “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Wes Anderson has created an adventure that dazzles the eyes, tickles the funny bone and touches the heart.