Reviewed by Paula Farmer
Director: Wes Anderson
Writers: Stefan Zweig
Stars: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham
MPAA Rating: R
A story of unlikely friendships doesn’t get any more quirky than in the hands of filmmaker Wes Anderson and in the form of his latest project, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” In it, viewers get to explore the world of Gustave H, a legendary concierge for the world renowned hotel during its heyday after World War I. Gustave finds a sort of kindred spirit in Zero Moustafa, the hotel’s new lobby boy. The wise and particular concierge who’s known for consorting with older rich hotel guests as well as running a tight ship, takes Moustafa under his wings, mentoring him to follow in his professional footsteps. Indeed the young lobby boy is a sponge that soaks in all of Gustave’s advice and pledges an undying loyalty. Through a series of unfortunate events, Gustave is on the run from the law, encounters seedy characters and helpful friends along the way, but becomes most dependent on his little lobby boy, turned confidant.
For those familiar with Anderson’s work, they can expect more of the same in the way of aesthetics, style, dialogue and pacing. The presentation is undeniably whimsical, hyper stylized with fairy tale-like settings. Additionally, the characters are almost cartoonish in somewhat contrived situations and speaking in unnatural rhythms. This is Anderson’s signature and has been since “The Royal Tenenbaum’s” of 2001. Sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. For “The Grand Budapest” it works! This is a fun, fast, exotic romp that’s a feast visually and a laugh a minute, yet with a touch of poignancy. The movie’s success is due in large part to Ralph Fiennes who is brilliant as Gustave H. Who knew this great dramatic actor had comedic chops, but he does. Besides the little known Tony Revolori who plays Zero handedly, Fiennes is surrounded by an all star cast including an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton and F. Murray Abraham who plays the older Zero and acts as the story’s narrator. Rounding out some of the cast are Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Ed Norton and Adrien Brody, just to name a few … a very few.