The Grand Budapest Hotel is a fresh breath of indie air into mainstream cinema. I have always been most fond of Wes Anderson’s Rushmore, as it was the first of his film’s I had ever seen, but I can easily say this is his masterpiece. The fact that he can take such a niche genre and never have a dull moment is a testament to Anderson as one of the most creative and impressive minds to hit the screen.
Budapest follows the adventures of M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and his devoted lobby boy (Tony Revolori). It is powered by its rapid-fire dialogue, eye-glueing shot construction and fantastic performances. Speaking of performances, Ralph Fiennes gives one of his best yet as an eccentric and strict but extremely empathetic concierge. If you’ve seen The Chumscrubber, you would have gotten a taste of Fiennes’ more comedic side; but this showcased that to the nth degree. I think we’ll be seeing more off-color comedy from him in the future (or at least I hope so).
From a story standpoint, the film really starts to take off after one of Gustave’s wealthy widowed lovers dies. I say one because he has many at The Grand Budapest. This particular widow is played by Tilda Swinton in great fashion, with hair looking like something pulled from ‘The Bride Of Frankenstein’. At her funeral service, Gustave has ‘Boy with Apple’, a rare painting, bestowed upon him. That’s when incredulous events unfold such as Gustave being accused of murder, thrown into prison, pursued by the widow’s estranged son (Adrien Brody) and chased by a villainous hitman (Willem Dafoe). Anderson does a great job of building up the relationship between the lobby boy and Gustave and uses consistent little threads of comedy that not only develop the two’s characterization, but are simple moments of laughter, like Gustave’s cherished cologne, L’Air de Panache.
All in all, The Grand Budapest Hotel is simply not to be missed. It’s a grand achievement and spectacle to be ogled at. If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson, you should see it in theaters before its run is over. If you don’t know who Anderson is, you should see it in theaters before its run is over and then get yourself familiar with the rest of his body of work. You won’t be disappointed.
Review by Ryan Kramer