Grand Budapest Hotel, The (2014)

Watching Wes Anderson’s total command of his exquisite craft is a thing of pure joy few can match.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Review #1,009

Dir. Wes Anderson
2014 | USA/Germany | Comedy/Drama | 100 mins | Various aspect ratios | English, French & German
M18 (passed clean) for language, some sexual content and violence.

Cast: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Lea Seydoux, Owen Wilson
Plot: A story set between the wars, about the adventures and friendship of a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel, and a lobby boy he took under his wing.
Awards: Won Grand Jury Prize (Berlin);  Won 4 Oscars – Best Production Design, Best Costume Design, Best Makeup & Hairstyling, Best Original Score. Nom. for 5 Oscars – Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing.

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Accessibility Index
Subject Matter: Moderate
Narrative Style: Slightly Complex
Pace: Normal
Audience Type: Slightly Mainstream

Viewed: In Theatres
First Published: 18 Mar 2014
Spoilers: No

Many who follow my reviews would know that while I admire the works of Wes Anderson, it may not mean I thoroughly enjoy them.  Films like Rushmore (1998), The Darjeeling Limited (2007) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012) are some examples. 

But here comes his latest, and boy did I enjoy it.  It brought me back to a similar experience I last felt with Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009), an animated feature that I regard as one of the very best of its kind, and possibly his masterstroke. 

The Grand Budapest Hotel comes very close to the near perfection that is Mr. and Mrs Fox, and by any measure, is probably the most fun time you will have in the theater before the summer blockbusters set in. 

Starring a list of stars far too long to account for in a review, The Grand Budapest Hotel is an ensemble picture modeled after the richness of European culture and tradition.  In fact, it is based loosely on the writings of Stefan Zweig, an Austrian. 

The film brings us into the mystifying world of a lobby boy who as an old man recounts his story as a 90-plus minute flashback.  Often such an approach can be boring, best exemplified by Fincher’s lackluster and overlong The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2007), however charming its title character might have been. 

“Keep your hands off my lobby boy!”

But Anderson’s total command of his craft, particularly his impeccable art direction and camerawork, brings life to a world that has been long lost, and in some ways, dead. 

This is a movie about reviving the dead, not just its people but also its setting.  They come alive through memory, which in turn is aestheticized by Anderson’s intoxicating colour palette and literal style. 

If Moonrise Kingdom presented itself in faded earthy colours, The Grand Budapest Hotel is splashed with an assortment of vibrant colours.  Names are painted on things – when a door opens from a side angle, we see what’s on the door and imagine what is inside.  Anderson doesn’t need to give us a shot of what’s inside. 

He has mastered an economical and creative way of filming and telling a story.  Like Wong Kar-Wai, Anderson’s style has been imitated, but never surpassed.  In a room of auteurs, he is probably one of the most distinctive and easily recognizable.

I recommend you to pay a visit to The Grand Budapest Hotel.  You will come out enchanted.  You will hum the beautiful melodies by the great composer Alexandre Desplat.  You will also be acquainted with the hotel’s rich history and characters.  And by doing so, I believe you will make Wes a very happy man.

Grade: A




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