Movie Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel [2014]

The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson's look at a story of Gustav H [Ralph Fiennes] - a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel and a lobby boy Zero Moustafa, who found themselves in a huge scandal between wars. Movie starts in 1985, under a late-Communist town of cemeteries. An old writer [Tom Wilkinson] drives away his grandson and recalls the time in 1968 when his younger self (Jude Law) stayed Grand Budapest Hotel and became friend with its owner, Mr. Moustafa [F. Murray Abraham]. 

Moustafa on his behalf tells a story of him working at the Grand Budapest Hotel with its owner Mr. Gustav. He was a man of particular character, loved by rich old ladies who felt a lot younger in his company. This characteristic of him brought a lot loyal customers, I should say, mostly fake blond grannies. Among them was Madame D. who seemingly was in love with hotel owner. The story of Gustav starts with her departure from Grand Budapest willing to take late-lover with her. Shortly after that, he gets a notice about death of this extremely rich lady and Gustav decides to pay her a farewell visit.
look closer, it's Tilda Swinton
As it turns out, Madame D. has a huge family of sisters, brothers.and son, who all are fighting for her wealth. Among others, concierge gets some part of it - the most valuable painting A Boy with an Apple. Being disgraced by will of departed, her son Dmitri (Andrien Brody) questions validity of the will and accordingly, Gustav has to steal the painting. 

This is where the fun starts - heirs hunting over stolen piece of art. This is where Wes delivers haunting dark comedy and plenty of enjoyment.

The Grand Budapest Hotel has everything we appreciate in Anderson's works. Most importantly, great visuals and easy to follow fun story. First thing, obvious from very beginning is how stunning everything looks in this film - production design, costumes, cinematography. Last year, Moonrise Kingdom had something we don't often see in contemporary movies and this year, Wes definitely improves any his previous works.


This amazing work with colors, designs and decorations brings whole story to another level of enjoyment. It entertains eyes and gets us closer to events happening on the screen. The darker story becomes, the more colorful art direction is. On the paper, the combination of such visuals and screenplay looks quite weird and experimental, however in practice I can not imagine The Grand Budapest Hotel without either of them. It takes place in plenty of different locations, started from Hotel to Mountains and prison in between. Each of them is as spectacular as it is.

Anderson, the same time, perfectly deals with storytelling with light, dark and definitely funny humor. It does not disappoint you, even more, it makes you sure that you've got the most engaging and diverting an hour and a half ahead.

What I also liked is how quickly everything happens. Movie consists of five chapters and they all play in speed of light. Therefore, it never shows unnecessary layers.

Films would not be that perfect without this all-star cast, that includes Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, William Defoe, Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Nilson and many others. They all do great job and especially Ralph, who's portrayal of Gustav H. is beyond hilarious. But biggest kudos to Tony Revolori for playing Zero aka the Lobby Boy, who was both funny, sad, interesting and did something new and very good. He in fact co-leads with Fiennes and is no less good than him, if not better.

And finally, the music by Alexander Desplat makes all above said a lot better. Desplat, who I think composes one of the best music currently, made another award worthy scores that absolutely is in cosistance with everything director tries to tell.

All in all, The Grand Budapest Hotel is the most entertaining movie of this year. Don't hesitate to watch it.

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