Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Edward Norton, Adrian Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham, Saorise Ronan, Matthieu Amalric, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jason Shwartzman, Lea Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Harvey Keitel
Screenplay: Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness (Based on the works of Stefan Zweig)
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is not Wes Anderson’s best film. For me, that honor is still a tie between his cult classics “Rushmore” (1998) and “The Royal Tenenbaums” (2001). But the question is, has Anderson created another film masterpiece to include in his already impressive filmography? And the answer is most certainly: yes. Anderson’s story of hotel concierge Mr. Gustav H (played flawlessly by Ralph Fiennes) is certainly one of his more ambitious pictures, with a stellar ensemble cast, the usual (but phenomenal) visuals and such intelligent writing that’ll both pull on your heart strings and keep you laughing the whole way through.
“Budapest” follows the story of two men, Zero (the younger version takes up most of the screen time and is played by Tony Revolori in a most impressive breakout role) and Mr. Gustav H, the head concierge and flamboyant leader of everything that happens within the hotel walls. As Zero tells his story of how he came to own the Grand Budapest, we are transported back to the colourful and glamorous world of the 1930s when Zero was nothing but a mere lobby boy under the apprenticeship of Mr. Gustav. Though the story sounds simple, Anderson creates a world of colourful characters and unbelievably wacky adventures that the two encounter circling around the death of an old matron, played by Tilda Swinton, in whom Gustav is believed to have killed.
Though Revolori is just as good as some of Anderson’s seasoned veteran collaborators (“Budapest” is a cameo heaven of familiar faces that appeared all throughout his films since 1998), the film is really at its best when Ralph Fiennes is on the screen. As Gustav H., Ralph Fiennes creates an unforgettable character that fits perfectly into Wes Anderson’s quirky world. He steals his own show from himself and all you want to do is bask in the glory of this veteran actor all throughout. This, by far has been his best performance since 1993’s “Schindler’s List”. If you’re a Ralph Fiennes fan, you will be reinforced of the greatest and power of this actor who makes the most out of his role in just one hour and thirty minutes. He truly is brilliant. The rest of the cast backs him up, and Anderson’s direction is perfect because not one person overpowers the loud, dramatic, flamboyant hotel concierge.
Though it may not be Anderson’s greatest cinematic achievement as a whole, the visuals of “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is just as grand as the title is. And it’s probably the most beautifully looking Anderson film out there. No frame is out of sync. There is not a single problem in the flawless production design, even if Anderson mixes created sets, animation and even real life locations there is no disconnect. His voice as a director is seen all throughout the picture. The music does not disappoint either. But the most impressive thing is the experimental take that Anderson takes in the change of the aspect ratio. Depending on the time or era, he and his cinematographer Robert D Yeoman, changes aspect ratios from full screen to widescreen in the most natural way ever. A “disconnect” with an audience did not exist and shouldn’t even be in discussion.
It really is no wonder that Anderson truly speaks out and touches this generation. His films, though criticized as having no substance and all style, are really truly wonderful (basically, haters gonna hate). He’s one of the reasons why I go to the movies. He has a voice, he is so damn consistent and his films are truly entertaining. He’ll be around for years to come and I don’t intend to miss any of his work. As of now, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is probably my favourite film of the year, so far.