Screen » Film

The Grand Budapest Hotel: Hungary Games

It's lovely, funny and ... yes, rather grand

by

Book your visit now to The Grand Budapest Hotel, the suite-est of Wes Anderson's ridiculous but delicious cinema treats.

Anderson's fans can already count on this wonderful wizard of odd to populate his films with the awkwardly familiar (Rushmore) or soulfully silly (Moonrise Kingdom), but in Grand Budapest we have Anderson's most complete and endearing fairy tale for grown-ups.

Anderson's latest has more in common with pop-up books than films, revealing tiny surprises with each turn of the page, while your gaze glides across a storybook landscape.

And glide this movie does--even when its characters aren't moving, they somehow stay in rhythm with composer Alexandre Desplat's ever-present, rapid-fire jazzy drum brushes: dit-dit-dah... dit-dit-dah... dit-dit-dah... dit-dit-dah.

"It will be my pleasure to tell you my story," a mysteriously permanent guest of the Grand Budapest (F. Murray Abraham) entreats near the beginning of the tale.

A pleasure indeed. Like matryoshka dolls, the layers of the man's mystery are uncovered with great care--from modern day back to 1985; then to 1968; and finally to 1932. And it is there, in a fragile Eastern Europe teetering between two World Wars, that we meet a lobby-boy-in-waiting, anxious to serve an elite clientele in the Grand Budapest's final glory days.

"I'm Zero, the new lobby boy," says the story's saucer-eyed hero (a revelatory Tony Revolori).

"Why do you want to be a lobby boy?" quizzes master concierge Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes).

"Who wouldn't? It's the Grand Budapest," enthuses Zero.

"Very good," says Gustave, with instant approval.

Monsieur Gustave, highly perfumed and tart-of-tongue, has his own code of ethics, exemplified by his "exceptional services" to a revolving door of old women (i.e. he boinks them), including Madame D. (an almost unrecognizable Tilda Swinton under a gray tornado of Marge Simpson hair).

"She was dynamite in the sack," reminisces Gustave.

"She was 84," says Zero with incredulity.

"I've had older."

And Gustave never dials down the charm. Even as she lies stiff in a coffin, he whispers to Madame D.'s corpse, "I don't know what cream they're putting on you down at the morgue, but I want some."

Anderson's Grand Budapest boasts a cast of characters that could readily squeeze into a Marx Brothers romp, each performed by some of the best: Bill Murray (his seventh feature with Anderson), Ed Norton, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Adrien Brody, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Bob Balaban and Harvey Keitel among them.

Through a breakneck pace of 99 minutes, we're treated to an art heist, some delicious-looking macaroons, gun fights, a prison break, brandy-barreled St. Bernards, a literal cliffhanger and chases involving sleds, jalopies, streetcars and steam engines.

Perhaps the most impressive element of The Grand Budapest Hotel is its art direction. Filmed entirely on location in Germany, Anderson employed some of the planet's finest Jugendstil-style architecture (pre-Modernist) for his elaborate sets. The attention to detail in this film is worth two, maybe three visits. Additionally, Anderson used some beautiful, 9-foot-tall miniatures for scenes depicting the outside of the Grand Budapest. It's stunning stuff.

Time to pack your bags. The Grand Budapest Hotel has a little bit of everything: a cast that appears to be having the time of their lives, a five-star script, and even a mint-on-your-pillow happy ending

Related Film

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Official Site: www.grandbudapesthotel.com

Director: Wes Anderson

Producer: Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson, Molly Cooper, Charlie Woebcken, Christoph Fisser and Henning Molfenter

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