The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)
Cast includes: Ralph Fiennes (Skyfall), F. Murray Abraham (Homeland), Adrien Brody (The Pianist), Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man), Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park), Harvey Keitel (Reservoir Dogs), Jude Law (Sherlock Holmes), Bill Murray (Groundhog Day), Edward Norton (The Painted Veil), Saoirse Ronan (Hanna), Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Tom Wilkinson (Michael Clayton), Tony Revolori (The Perfect Game)
Writer/Director: Wes Anderson (Rushmore, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom)
Genre: Comedy | Drama (99 minutes)
From a memorial in the Old Lutz Cemetery, we go back to 1985, where we meet the author. “It’s an extremely common mistake, believing stories are dreamed up out of thin air. Stories seek you out. The incidents to follow were described to me exactly as written.” He then takes us back to 1968 and the Grand Budapest Hotel… “descended into shabbiness” at this point… very few guests all dining alone. But there was one particular guest who was not just alone, “he had an air of sadness. He was alone and lonely.” The young author asks around and learns that Mr. Moustafa is the owner of the Grand Budapest. The next day, fate intervenes when Mr. Moustafa invites the author to dine with him, and an amazing story unfolds. Now we go back to 1932 and the Grand Budapest. At the center is the hotel’s beloved… especially by the older ladies… concierge, M. Gustave. On that fateful day, 84-year old Madame Desgoffe is more distressed than usual about leaving. “I fear it might be the last time I see you.” “Good God,” exclaims M. Gustave. “Your fingernails! That color!” “You don’t like it?” “Not merely dislike it… it repulses me,” declares M. Gustave. But for now it’s kiss, kiss, kiss… I love you… I love you. And she’s off. After her 19th season at the Grand Budapest, this good-bye does seem different. “She was shaking like a shitting dog,” M. Gustave observed.
In all the drama, M. Gustave almost fails to notice the new lobby boy, Zero. But an on-the-fly interview finds him acceptable… “Your job is to be completely invisible… discrete… so, keep your mouth shut.” Months later, the newspaper headlines scream “War.” But a little article in the middle of the page tells of the “Dowager Found Dead.” Despite the “Do Not Disturb,” M. Gustave must see this right away. In just 5 minutes Zero has packed… careful not to forget M. Gustave’s Le Panache cologne, and the pair is off to Lutz. “I blame myself,” M. Gustave says. “She was dynamite in the sack, by the way.” In Lutz, the greedy relatives are coming out of the woodworks for the reading of the will and unraveling of the codicils, but the upshot is that Madame has left “Boy with Apple” to M. Gustave.
From here, “the plot thickens… as they say. I’ve never understood the soup metaphor,” says M. Gustave. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a delightful romp through a Wes Anderson fantasy world, inspired by old world decadence and 20th century World War intrigue. As in all of Anderson’s films, the visuals are impeccable and the situations are eccentric and clever. If you enjoyed his Moonrise Kingdom, you’ll enjoy Grand Budapest. If you didn’t, you won’t. Anderson has created an art form that’s somewhere between a cartoon and an elegant period drama… a delightful confection from beginning to end. He’s attracted amazing actors, including Ralph Fiennes, who effortlessly delivers complex rapid-fire dialogue as the flamboyant M. Gustave. But in the end, M. Gustave needs a sidekick, and Zero, played by newcomer, Tony Revolori, fills the bill. After all, we’re on the eve of WWII and “this could be a tricky war…” an understatement indeed!
4 popped kernels
A young lobby boy becomes the trusted sidekick to a flamboyant concierge, as the two of them are on the run from ruthless, spurned heirs and an impending war
Rated: R (Violence, Sexual Content, Crime)
Audience: Young Adults & Grown-ups
Gender Style: Neutral
Distribution: Mainstream Wide Release
Tempo: Zips Right Along
Visual Style: Computer Effects
Nutshell: Decadent old-world charmer meets WWII era thugs
Social Significance: Pure Entertainment