Academy Award nominee Wes Anderson’s (“Moonrise Kingdom,” “The Royal Tenenbaum’s”) latest feature is a quaint and picturesque period piece between the great wars staged in a luxurious hotel perched high in the alps.
Monsieur Gustav H., played by Academy Award nominee Ralph Fiennes (“Schindler’s List,” “The English Patient”), is the concierge of “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” a resting institution of the highest class of its time and Gustav reaps the rewards of the hotel’s success and the affections of the hotel’s patrons, especially the patrons of the elderly and female persuasion.
Gustav takes notice of a new lobby boy at the Grand Budapest named Zero Moustafa, played by Tony Revolori, and Gustav decides to take the new lobby boy under his wing and they quickly foster a firm friendship.
One day, a wealthy patron of the hotel, and familiar acquaintance of Gustav, named Madame D., played by Academy Award winner Tilda Swinton (“Michael Clayton,” “The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”) suddenly dies of mysterious circumstances and Gustav takes Zero to accompany him to Madame D.’s memorial service.
At the service, Deputy Kovacs, played by Jeff Goldblum (“Jurassic Park,” “Independence Day”), as executor of Madame D.’s estate, reads her will and announces that she is leaving Gustav a rare and priceless piece of art called “Boy with Apple,” which arouses the rage of her son Dmitri, played by Academy Award winner Adrien Brody (“The Pianist,” “King Kong”).
Fearing that Dmitri will contest the will in an attempt to inherit his mother’s entire fortune, Gustav and Zero quickly abscond with the painting and try to hide it before Dmitri even notices but the concierge and his lobby boy protege soon find themselves in the middle of complex criminal net of mistaken identity, murder, greed and an impending European war on the horizon.
Gustav and Zero must stay ahead of Dmitri and his sadistic enforcer Jopling, played by Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe (“Shadow of the Vampire,” “Platoon”) and the police led by Henckels, played by Academy Award nominee Edward Norton (“American History X,” “Fight Club”), to discover why Madame D. was murdered and protect “Boy With Apple” at all costs.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a charming and entertaining delight in the typical Wes Anderson/stop-motion style. Anderson writes and directs a fast and zany feature, inspired by the works of Stefan Zweig with Hugo Guinness assisting with shaping the story.
Wes Anderson writes and directs a fast-paced story that is visually alluring thanks to the vivid and lush set decoration and production design and the entire feature is crammed with great acting performances from Fiennes, Revolori, Brody, Swinton, Norton and Goldblum as well as performances from Mathieu Almaric (“Munich”), Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham (“Amadeus”), Jason Schwartzman (“The Darjeeling Limited”), Academy Award nominees Saiorse Ronan (“Atonement”), Jude Law (“Cold Mountain”), Tom Wilkinson (“Michael Clayton”), Owen Wilson (“Behind Enemy Lines”) and longtime Wes Anderson collaborator, Bill Murray (“Lost in Translation”).
When it comes to the narrative, so much happens but it stays fresh. The characters come in and out so quickly, and so much action takes place, it is hard to keep up but the plot is never lost and the characters stay memorable.
Ralph Fiennes is as professional as ever. His role as the suave and debonair Gustav H. is unpredictable yet delightful and also, his chemistry with newcomer Tony Revolori is truly whimsical.
Though the film mostly centers around Fiennes and Revolori’s characters, the remainder of the supporting cast hardly receive any screen time, but they make a significant impact on the film regardless.
Wes Anderson and his production crew have done a remarkable job shaping this film.
Audiences will truly enjoy this film of intrigue and cat-and-mouse plot-twists. Visually and narrative-wise, this movie is yin and yang; bright, vivid and colorful yet there is a sinister darkness throughout the feature.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel,” is the movie that should kick-start 2014 at the movies because audiences will be mesmerized by what is seen, intrigued by what is happening and deem the finished product as nothing but marvelous.
Wes Anderson truly outdoes himself with his latest product.