Film Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

the-grand-budapest-hotel

An author recounts the tale of Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), devoted concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel and his lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Toni Revolori). When Gustave is left a priceless painting by the deceased Madame D (Tilda Swinton), he and Zero must go to extraordinary lengths to keep it out of the clutches of her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody).

Many directors can be considered auteurs, but few boast such a distinctive style as Wes Anderson. Even the most casual cinephile can pick out one of his films from 100 paces, and we’ve even got to the stage where films are described as ‘Wes Anderson-esque’. With that in mind, it wouldn’t be exaggerating to say that The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson’s most Wes Anderson-esque film to date.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a matryoshka of a film, a story wrapped within a story, wrapped within another story, and this is just the start of its curiosities. We begin with a girl looking at a statue of an author and holding a copy of a book entitled ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’. We then briefly see the author (played by Tom Wilkinson) before cutting to a younger version of him (played this time by Jude Law) who is speaking to a man about how he came to own our titular hotel. Clear? Good.

And it’s at that juncture that Wes Anderson is unleashed, as if the author of the book has employed the director to tell his tale. From that point on it’s a full frontal assault on the senses that rarely lets up for a moment. Anderson’s signature style has never been more pronounced; the colour palette is deliciously vintage and every shot is meticulously framed within an inch of its life.

The abundance of static camera shots gives the impression we’re at times watching a play, whilst some of the stylised scenery harks right back to the birth of cinema with Georges Melies’ A Trip to the Moon. There’s also a nice bit of fun had with the screen ratios representing the different eras in which the film is set.

But it’s not all style; there’s plenty of substance to back it up. The script is razor sharp, dripping with dry humour and delivered brilliantly by the unbelievable cast (which includes among others Bill Murray, Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Owen Wilson, Saoirse Ronan, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel and Willem Dafoe). Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave, the frantically camp hotel concierge, is wonderful as he rattles off his lines in quick-fire fashion and displays a genuine affection for lobby boy Zero.

As you’ve probably gathered, The Grand Budapest Hotel is somewhat on the bonkers side, perhaps too much so at times. With so much going on so quickly and with so many characters popping up here, there and everywhere, it can be a little tricky to follow what’s going on, although it’s so much fun that this shouldn’t present too much of a problem.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a madcap caper of the highest order, a picturebook playground examining what’s so wonderful about cinema and presenting it in a truly wonderful explosion of action and colour.

No-one does Wes Anderson quite like Wes Anderson.

Pros

  • Wes Anderson’s distinctive style as pronounced as ever
  • Genuinely funny script
  • Ralph Fiennes is fantastic
  • Wonderful supporting cast

Cons

  • So crazy it can sometimes be tricky to follow

4 and a half pigeons

4.5/5 pigeons

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47 thoughts on “Film Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

  1. jjames36 says:

    “So crazy it can sometimes be tricky to follow.” Sounds like just about every Anderson movie ever made, though you make it sound as though this one actually ratchets up his zaniness.

    Either way, I cannot wait to see this movie. I love me some Anderson.

  2. Mark Walker says:

    Great write-up Chris. You can’t beat a bit of Wes. I’m really looking forward to this one and all the more after a 4.5 from your good self.

  3. theipc says:

    HMMM Wes Anderson has been too Wes Anderson-y for me lately. I’n sure this is excellent though.

  4. Had a sneaking suspicion you would enjoy this Chris! I’m hoping to see it this week and off the back of your glowing review I can’t wait :)

  5. Great review, Chris. This is one of my most anticipated films of 2014. Can’t wait!

  6. chris2508 says:

    Great review Chris. I’m going to see it this weekend and I can’t wait.

  7. Heard many positive things about this film, and looking forward to catching it myself when I get the chance. Great review Chris!

    Adam.

  8. sati says:

    I’m not a fan of Anderson – I find his style to be, more often than not, style over substance and whatever substance it has is so pretentious it is making me nauseous. Also he seems to hate dogs which makes him a monster.

    But I’ll see this one – Fiennes is awesome and he is terrific when he has a chance to show off his comedy skills.

  9. keith7198 says:

    Really anxious for this to finally open in my area. I don’t understand our release schedule at all. My figures are crossed for this weekend!

  10. CMrok93 says:

    Such a fun film that is exactly the type of one we expect to see from Anderson. However, this time, he’s a whole lot more ambitious. Good review.

  11. ckckred says:

    I’m a big fan of Wes and I can’t wait for this to get a wider release. Good to hear it doesn’t disappoint. Nice review.

  12. ruth says:

    This could very well be my fave from Wes so far. The pace was faster than some of his previous films and it was also hilarious! I could easily watch this again. Glad we agree on this Chris!

  13. yes, ok, fine: I will go see this! It’s gotten too many positive reviews for me not to. Though I’m more of a fan of Wes’s older stuff. Interested to see how this will fit in…

  14. dbmoviesblog says:

    A madcap caper of the highest order? haha, I love this. What a great review. It seems that -there is the Wes Anderson. Full Stop. and then there is everybody else. Btw I find your pros and cons in your review very useful/informative. It has been awhile, but I always wanted to say that :)

  15. thycriticman says:

    I love Wes Anderson<3 I love seeing this film getting such high praise<3 I cannot wait to fall in love with it myself, yet for some odd reason….IT ISN'T PLAYING IN ANY CANADIAN MOVIE THEATERS NEAR ME.

    Sorry for my outburst…..

    I just do not understand why my country is against Wes Anderson…..

  16. elina says:

    Awesome review!! I can’t wait to see this, ever since I found out Fantastic Mr. Fox is his. And mmmm, Ralph Fiennes.

  17. Oh lovely! So glad you liked this, I thought it was wonderful. Anderson usually goes one way or the other for me, but I fell in love with The Grand Budapest Hotel.
    Lovely, lovely review.

  18. Mark Hobin says:

    You’re right about it being a little difficult to follow, particularly in the beginning when the multiple flashbacks can get a little confusing. Otherwise I found this to be a delightful production that ranks up there with his best. I kind of went off on how beautiful looking the film was in my analysis too. Nice review!

  19. Spot on review. “Wes Anderson’s most Wes Anderson-esque film to date” – love it!

    Completely agree with you that although this feels a bit bonkers there’s plenty of substance backing it up. Hope we get to see Fiennes in another Anderson film sometime in the future.

  20. I too was hooked by the trailer, and the movie didn’t disappoint…my favorite film of the year so far. Your review did a great job covering everything I thought about the film, and to me it seemed Wes Anderson went out of his way to vindicate the spoof trailer (in a fun way) seen on Saturday Night Live…which is worth checking out if you haven’t seen it yet.

  21. alexraphael says:

    So great to see Fiennes in a comic role. I missed this at the cinema. Will catch it when it comes out.

  22. Nostra says:

    Seen it twice at the cinema and it was as enjoyable the second time around. This will probably end up high on my end of year list.

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