Grand Budapest Hotel high on whimsy


The_Grand_Budapest_HotelStarring Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Harvey Keitel, Lea Seydoux, Mathieu Amalric, Jason Schwartman, Tom Wilkinson and Bob Balaban.  Directed by Wes Anderson.

★★★½

Ralph Fiennes has played his share of meanies. Voldemort, Hades, Amon Goeth, Francis Dolarhyde. But here he’s the center of Wes Anderson’s latest fable, that on M. Gustave, the best concierge of the best hotel in the fictitious Eastern European country Zubrowka, circa 1932.

Now, The Grand Budapest Hotel is very much a Wes Anderson film, with side-to-side dolly cams and several shots where the players are positioned as though they’re posing for a shoebox motif. Each shot could be captured, framed and hung on a wall. His style is as unique and recognizable as a Woody Allen stutter, or a Stanley Kubrick scowl.

Many of his regulars are here, but Anderson’s really good about mixing it up each time with new blood. Fiennes and 17-year-old actor Tony Revolori (as Zero Mustafa) are the center of the story, with the energetic, detail-oriented Gustave grooming Zero to be a first-class lobby boy. Part of being lobby boy is discretion, so Zero knows his lips are sealed when he sees one of Gustave’s method of keeping his older female clientele happy is by providing personal services of a gigolo vein.

When his richest suitor Madame D (Tilda Swinton in old-age make-up) dies, she leaves him her most prized possession. This sparks outrage amongst her family, and they accuse him of murdering Madame D for his own gain. Gustave is zipped to prison, but he and Zero plot his escape so he can clear his name. Hijinks ensue.

This is the 8th addition to the Anderson oeuvre, and it’s one of his better ones. The narrative zips along as we watch this droll popup-book of a tale come to life.

Tags: Bill Murray Edward Norton Jude Law Movie Review Ralph Fiennes The Grand Budapest Hotel Tilda Swinton Wes Anderson