The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel

  • Another fanstastic Wes Anderson film, The Grand Budapest Hotel is riotously funny.
  • Owing mostly to Anderson’s directorial and authorial decisions. His dialogue is witty and engrossing, no doubt because it fuses poetry with sudden vulgarity.
  • Anderson’s narrative framing is just as humorous, not least because voice-overs from three actors and two characters seamlessly blend together, thereby fueling the picture’s nostalgia-minded themes.
  • The director’s color palette is both pronounced and effective. The Grand Budapest Hotel occurs in three distinct eras, each of which has its own color scheme, the last of them being heightened reds and pinks. The changing colors subconsciously cue the viewer which narrator to expect and which story elements to anticipate.
  • Anderson’s image frames are often comedic, as well, as when M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and Zero Mustafa (Tony Revolori) enter the titular hotel, hiding behind bakery boxes, trying not to attract attention. In the bottom corner of the screen? Henckels (Edward Norton), looking determined.
  • Consider that example further. It is funny, yes, the way Henckels appears, almost as an afterthought, but it also adds gravitas, reminding us of the threat facing Gustave and Zero. Therein is the true genius in Anderson’s choices; they are funny, but they are not depthless.
  • Which can be said for the actors’ performances, as well. Ralph Fiennes is one of the finest working screen actors, meaning his commanding performance isn’t surprising. But, even so, this might be his best work. Fiennes sells The Grand Budapest Hotel’s fantasy and comedy, at the same time he amplifies its drama. While this picture belongs first to Wes Anderson, Fiennes almost steals it.
  • Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan (Agatha), Adrien Brody (Dmitri) and Willem Dafoe (Jopling) shine almost as brightly, especially Ronan who is so good that we barely notice Agatha’s near depthlessness.
  • Indeed, of the film’s many characters, only Gustave and Zero are well-defined. The Grand Budapest Hotel does not suffer for it, though, owing to Zero’s narration. We see other characters as he sees them.
  • Wes Anderson’s career is already distinguished, and this might be his best movie.
  • Though it isn’t perfect. Agatha and Gustave’s final fates are glossed over too quickly, zapping the film of potential emotion. Moreover, physical abnormalities, like Agatha’s birthmark, are often played for one-line humor, a fact that is marginally discomforting.
  • Finally, fantastical references to Nazi Germany and World War Two are so direct as to distract. Given the obvious one to one relationship, why not set the film in a fictional hotel located somewhere in actual 1930s-era Europe and then include actual Nazis?
  • The flaws, however, are minor and the strengths immersive. The Grand Budapest Hotel is an exceptional film indeed.
  • Final Grade: A-
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40 thoughts on “The Grand Budapest Hotel

      • I haven’t seen an awful lot of his films to be honest. Really enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom the other year, felt it was very endearing. From previews/trailers etc, I love the look of Grand Budapest Hotel’s colour scheme, as you mentioned!

        Adam.

      • Moonrise Kingdom is very Andersonian. If you like that one, you will probably like most of his work, including this one. I definitely recommend you see it.

        Incidentally, Moonrise, this one, and Royal Tenenbaums are in a dead heat for my favorite Wes Anderson movie.

  1. It was fantastic. Dafoe was brilliant and scared the living hell out of my wimp of a girlfriend (Had to walk her upstairs at her condo). Point is, I never thought Anderson would be so great at creating bad guys and mixing crime/comedy to the extent of this one. Adrien Brody who usually lacks charisma was brilliant in this one!

  2. Great review. I agree that this is some of Fiennes best work and the finest film we’ve seen from Anderson so far. Loved the way Anderson framed his narrative at the beginning, taking us back through time. It worked as both an ode to writers and a heart breaking comment on the passage of time and effects of Communism.

  3. Glad to hear you liked it so, I hope I will too. Fiennes!! Didn’t know you were such a fan of Anderson — I’ve only seen Fantastic Mr. Fox of his. 😀

    • I wouldn’t call Anderson my favorite director (his body of work isn’t diverse enough), but he’d be on the short list for a Top Ten list, were I to compile one for some reason. I think him terrific.

      I can’t remember. Did you like Mr. Fox? (If you did, you’ll like most of his work, I suspect; that one is very Andersonian.) I consider just a notch below this, The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012).

  4. Sounds like a blast. Heard so many good things about this one! I’m not Wes Anderson’s biggest fan but it’s refreshing to see his unique approach to storytelling and his quirky eccentricities every time I see one of his movies.

    • This is similar, in many ways, to much of Anderson’s canon, but a bit darker. Personally, I think it sheer genius.

      Hopefully you feel the same when you see it.

    • He’s better than good. 🙂

      And yeah, this might be Anderson’s best – I think it is in a dead heat with Moonrise Kingdom and Tenenbaums. So you should definitely see it. 🙂

  5. The Grand Budapest I feel is the first of his films that I might have to sit through twice (maybe more) just to pin a lot of the things down that I liked, this film was jam-packed man!!! And also darker, which at times didn’t work so much for me. Though it is still completely signature Anderson, I think I have favorites above this one. But again, that all could change upon a second watch. I really would like to experience the beginning again, because perhaps I judged it too harshly in my own piece.

    Great review

    • If you do revisit it, I hope to your hear your second-impression thoughts. Like I said in your piece, I like the beginning a lot. A lot a lot. 🙂

      I agree this one is much darker than most of his work. But given the WW2 backdrop, I think that fitting, honestly.

  6. The slapstick of the film heightens the film and is always used in good taste with Anderson’s writing making sure it never feels out of place, and surprisingly never detaches. Glad you were a fan of it! Lovely review.

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