MOVIE REVIEW: The Grand Budapest Hotel

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Grand Budapest Hotel
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The Grand Budapest Hotel is the latest film from writer/director Wes Anderson.  If you’re not familiar with Wes Anderson, some of the other films he’s directed are Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, and Moonrise Kingdom to name a few.  It’s pretty easy to identify a Wes Anderson film by the overall look and his unique visual style, and he typically uses many of the same actors in all of his films.  Some of his favorites that make an appearance in this film are Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, and Edward Norton.  Also in the cast are Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Jude Law, and Willem Dafoe along with a slew of other big stars.  The film is classified as a comedy-drama, but I’d say it should be classified as a Wes Anderson.

The story follows legendary concierge of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Gustave H (Fiennes), and his trusted friend and lobby boy, Zero Moustafa (Revolori).  A client of the hotel (and former lover of Gustave) has passed away and left a priceless Renaissance painting to him in her will.  The deceased’s family is up in arms and want the family fortune all to themselves, so Gustave steals the painting and heads back to the hotel.  In the meantime, the family has accused Gustave of murdering the deceased and he gets sent away to prison.  With the help of Zero and some fellow inmates, Gustave manages to break out of prison and now he must clear his name and cash in on his priceless painting.

Wes Anderson films have a look and feel all their own, and The Grand Budapest Hotel is certainly no different.  I think it’s a credit to the director that his films are so easily identifiable (there’s no mistaking a Wes Anderson film), but I guess that depends on whether or not you like his filmography.   With that said, I personally feel that Wes Anderson films are an acquired taste.  I remember seeing The Royal Tenenbaums back in 2001 and being bored out of my mind, not to mention how much I loathed The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.  I’ve revisited both films in recent years and can appreciate both of them much more now than I did then.  Even though his films all give off the same vibe, I think the quality is getting better with each one.  The Grand Budapest Hotel might be his best to date as it’s so brilliantly written and superbly acted.  The script is so detailed and intricate, I feel like I need to see it a few more times before I can fully appreciate it.   I’m sure it means something to an actor to be a part of a Wes Anderson film, and because of that he’s assembled an amazing cast.  Ralph Fiennes is as good as he’s ever been and absolutely steals the show here.  Even Tilda Swinton is in the film, although you wouldn’t know it by her old lady make-up.  The rest of the cast is great as well, and it just feels like they’re all having a great time making this movie.   The multi-layered story along with the lush canvas makes for an enjoyable and intriguing time at the movies.  If you’re a fan of Wes Anderson or even a fan of independent film, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a must see.

Grade: A-

The Grand Budapest Hotel opens at the Landmark Keystone Art theater in Indianapolis on Friday, March 21.

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