If there’s any director who does whatever he wants, it’s Wes Anderson. Never one to shy away from what makes his films so fantastic — no matter how different they are from each other —you always know you’re watching something he made. Chock-full of amazing casts, playing unforgettable characters, whether live-action or animated, there’s no end to his quirky style. His latest exercise in madcap brilliance, The Grand Budapest Hotel (based on the writings of Stefan Zweig) springs to life as a live-action version of Fantastic Mr. Fox. However, the film wears its R-rating on its sleeve and is definitely not for kids. But, you could call Hotel a kid-movie for adults as plenty of wackiness ensues with a whimsical air to the shenanigans.
We begin with a young girl walking through a cemetery to sit down next to a statue where she begins reading the Grand Budapest Hotel book. A narration begins by the “Author” (Tom Wilkinson) before we move inside the story in the fictional European Republic of Zubrowka, where we meet Young Writer (Jude Law) who is staying at the hotel. He runs into the owner, Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), and the two go to dinner. Here, Moustafa tells his new friend the story of how he came to own the hotel after the death of Madame D. (Tilda Swinton). Now we skip all the way back to when Moustafa was a young lobby boy named Zero (Tony Revolori), working under the guidance of M. Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), the best concierge the hotel ever had.
The plot quickly thickens when Gustave is bequeathed a priceless painting by Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum), the head of Madame D.’s estate. Her family is outraged, and her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) who enlists the aid of Jopling (Willem Dafoe) in framing Moustafa for his mother’s murder. Gustave is wrongfully arrested and now Zero must find a way to help Gustave escape from prison to prove his innocence, keep the painting safe, stay one step ahead of Inspector Henckels (Edward Norton), and protect the love of his life Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), from both the affections of Gustave and the evil clutches of Jopling.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is by far Anderson’s most heavily plotted film. Finding laughs around every corner — Gustave’s violent outbursts of vulgarity in particular — the fun never ends. The cast is having a ball, with some familiar faces popping up towards the end with cameos by Anderson regulars Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban, and Owen Wilson. Keep your eyes glued and you just might even spot George Clooney. Cinematographer Robert Yeoman utilizes various aspect ratios to represent each layer of the film which adds its own tone as well. The costumes and production design are also a sight to behold. Anderson has written his most pun-filled screenplay yet and, as is always the case with his films, once the credits roll you can’t wait to see what he’ll come up with next. The Grand Budapest Hotel is nothing short of classic Wes Anderson.
Photos courtesy Fox Searchlight