The Grand Budapest Hotel

Directed By: Wes Anderson

Starring: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, and Tony Revolori

Wes Anderson is back!  Indie film lovers everywhere will have some good laughs this weekend.  In his follow-up to his mega hit Moonrise Kingdom, the acclaimed director has assembled one of his largest casts to date, including familiar faces like Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman.  Anderson’s latest film The Grand Budapest Hotel offers yet another dose of his distinctive filmmaking style and the first good whiff of a cologne known as L’Air de Panache.  Given the film's record-breaking $800,000 opening on four screens in New York and Los Angeles, we are clearly smelling what Wes Anderson is cooking.

Sitting in a cemetery by a monument to a deceased writer, a girl cracks open a book by a man only known as "The Author" (Tom Wilkinson).  The book chronicles a trip the young writer (Jude Law) made to the Republic of Zubrowka and his extensive conversation with M. Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), owner of the rundown, empty Grand Budapest Hotel.  Zero proceeds to tell him about the hotel's glory days back in the 1930s and how he went from being a Lobby Boy to the owner of the establishment.  It all begins with the hotel's concierge M. Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes).  When he's not managing this luxurious facility, the successful concierge spends his time courting aging beauties, particularly blondes.  In 1932, he spends the night and provides his "exceptional service" to Madame D. (Tilda Swinton).  Because she believes for some strange reason that this will be the final time she sees him, Madame D. is eager to stay with M. Gustave another night.  As fate would have it, this night does mark their final time together.

Several days later, M. Gustave is evaluating a trial Lobby Boy named Zero (Tony Revolori) when he is informed that Madame D. has died under mysterious circumstances.  Her butler Serge X. (Mathieu Amalric) requests that he come to her wake and funeral service.  Racing to see his dear love, M. Gustave arrives and learns that he has been bequeathed her most valuable asset, a painting known as Boy With Apple.  The Madame's surviving family members, especially Dmitri Desgoffe-und-Taxis (Adrien Brody), don't take this too well and contest the validity of her will.  It's needless to say that they give her executor, Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum), a hard time.  After a physical altercation with Dmitri, M. Gustave and Zero decide to take the treasured painting before the family does something rash.  He won't enjoy the spoils of his inheritance too long, however, as he's also been implicated in the murder of the Madame.  Framed for a crime he didn't commit, M. Gustave must find a way to prove his innocence.  Meanwhile, the menacing J.G. Jopling (Willem Dafoe) is tidying up all loose ends related to the framing.

I have lots of love for Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel.  A richly entertaining comedy and a deceptively poignant drama, Anderson's latest is just the kind of movie that's perfect to wrap what's been one rough winter.  With strong direction, the film manages to shine a light on the humanity in an otherwise barbaric world.  It manages to shine a light on genuinely nice people rather than the selfish, greedy folks who often dominate the world.  Fueled by a slew of endearing performances from one of the most robust casts we've seen in an indie film in quite some time, The Grand Budapest Hotel is an undeniably charming film.

As expected, The Grand Budapest Hotel boasts Wes Anderson's unique stylistic flourishes. His distinctive, almost childlike aesthetics are back on hand.  His witty humor is in full supply.  His army of colorful characters, savage and kind alike, has returned.  Unlike Moonrise Kingdom, however, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a brutal film loaded with harsh violence.  Blood flows extensively throughout the movie.  Because Anderson delivers brutality alongside his often sugary filmmaking, nobody in my audience found the heads rolling and the fingers crunching in the film to be grotesque.  Beneath all of this amusing savagery though is a subtle message about the facade of civilization.  In a world where most profess to live by certain ideals and principles, very few actually do live by them.  In the fictional Republic of Zubrowka, one of those few is M. Gustave H.

When I write that Wes Anderson has an army of colorful characters, I mean it.  Starring 17 different actors, 16 with whom we're all very familiar, The Grand Budapest Hotel has quite a cast.  That being said, I can't write about each and every actor despite the fact that they all deliver endearing performances in their own ways.  However, I'd be remiss if I neglected to mention a few standouts.  For his part as the delightful concierge and L’Air de Panache aficionado M. Gustave H., Ralph Fiennes gives a strong comedic performance.  This flirtatious, witty being is the glue holding this massive cast together.  For his part as Lobby Boy Zero, Tony Revolori comes out swinging in one of his first roles on the big screen.  At first glance, his character appears to be an intriguing introvert.  As the film progresses, he opens up and really brings quite a bit of hearty humor to the film.  Last but not least, I have to call out Willem Dafoe for an excellent performance as the slippery J.G. Jopling.  He doesn't have a very vocal role, but he manages to command the screen every time he's on it.  His menacing presence brings quite a bit to the movie.

I could go on about The Grand Budapest Hotel, but I won't belabor the point.  The film finds Wes Anderson in good form.  I thoroughly enjoyed this comedy-drama.  The Grand Budapest Hotel gets a 0.03% rating.  Have some wine coolers with this one.