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Review

‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ shows Wes Anderson’s unique talent in full

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April 24, 2014

The great director Wes Anderson is back in theaters with a new farcical film that takes us through ski slopes and quirky characters in “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

High in the mountains of Zubrowka lies a dilapidated hotel that was once the illustrious Grand Budapest Hotel. There an author talks with the hotel’s aging owner Zero Mustafa who recalls how he came to be in possession of the hotel and why he will not leave it.

Movie poster for The Grand Budapest Hotel.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is the latest film from director Wes Anderson.

Mustafa’s tale takes him back to when he was a simple lobby boy under the world’s greatest concierge Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and went through a very odd farce that was comprised of murder, prison, love, friendship and posh desert cakes. Through it all, Mustafa observes the eccentric dealings of his mentor and friend Gustave and dives further into his friend’s dying lifestyle of parties, poetry and pleasing all guests who enter the Grand Budapest.

My description in the above paragraph leaves out a great amount of what makes this film excellent. Wes Anderson is a director that I have grown to appreciate after seeing his earlier film “Moonrise Kingdom,” which is an excellent film in itself, but so much of what makes his films great is what you see, not so much what the story is about.

Not to imply the plot here is not great, but to truly enjoy a Wes Anderson film is to take in everything that the surroundings have to offer.

Visually the film is just as good as its script, and one of the main reasons Wes Anderson draws people to his films. I have heard it said that Anderson shoots every scene in his movies like it is a painting to put on the wall, and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” grants its viewers a whole gallery of art. Every shot in this film accentuates everything Anderson is good at cinematically: wide shots that show off the spectacular architecture, a variety of colors in the costumes that makes the film feel like an impressionistic painting and well-shot scenes of dialogue. That is just to name some of the great things that Wes Anderson brings to every scene he creates, making the whole film a treat for the eyes while still giving credit to its other elements.

The film is a comedy through and through. The character of Gustave is so delightfully refined with a hedonistic side to boot. He entertains and sticks up for everything he believes in, even his lobby boy Mustafa, almost to a fault. The plot of the film is just as quirky as the two main characters, concerning Gustave getting framed for murder and Mustafa helping to restore his companion’s name and secure the future of the Grand Budapest. It is a delightfully comedic story that even manages to hit some sad notes along the way, but never misses with its humor and poetic writing.

The music is also carefully crafted. An orchestral score highlights the Austrian feel to the Northern Europe setting that pairs well with the characters and cinematography like fine wine to cheese. It helps to bring out every good chase scene, every bit of comedy and every sad realization that is ushered out by the characters.

Beneath all the laughs I had, the greatest thing the film held for me was the underlying sadness that accompanied it. You could very well argue that “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a movie about nostalgia, from the way the narrative is told down to the character of Gustave, who seems to be keeping himself as young as he wishes to be. You get a sense that old ways are changing, that the romance of the past is vanishing and trying to be kept alive.

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” manages to stay alive for the whole cinematic experience, and is one that many others should enjoy for themselves. It is artfully accessible to all, hilarious as well and a great introduction to the fantastically idiosyncratic world of Wes Anderson.

Ryan Funes is a lover of all things movie, TV, video games and stories and wants to become a television writer someday. In his spare time he enjoys hanging with friends, tapping into his imagination, and watching cartoons of all kinds.