I love when I get the opportunity to see films before the public. Sometimes they’re popcorn movies, like The Purge, or Sinister, or Winter’s Tale. Sometimes, though, you get so see a really great FILM.
Directed by Wes Anderson, he of The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr Fox, and Moonrise Kingdom, we have been brought yet another fabulous cinematic concoction in The Grand Budapest Hotel.
If you’ve seen any of Anderson’s other films, then you are undoubtedly familiar with his visual style: bold colors, quick camera movements from one character to another and back again, and the humorous use of transitional models of places and things, etc.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is no exception. The story of Monsieur Gustave (played brilliantly by Ralph Fiennes), the incredibly devoted and well-loved (especially by the “older” clientele) concierge of the titular hotel, and the adventures that ensure after the elderly “Madame D,” (Tilda Swinton) a frequent guest at the hotel and intimate of Gustave’s, is murdered, with Gustave being blamed for it by her scheming family. While the plot itself is a bit convoluted to recount here, let me say that Anderson has written and directed it brilliantly, with nary a single non-exceptional performance to spoil the fun.
What I found interesting was his framing of the film. Opening with a girl reading a book by “Author,” (played by Tom Wilkinson), who is narrating a story told to his younger self (Jude Law)—while staying at the titular hotel—by the hotel’s owner, a man named Zero Mustafa (played brilliantly by F Murray Abraham—seriously; he is so good in his unfortunately-limited screen time: it’s a tragedy he couldn’t have been used more). “Old” Zero recounts to “Young” Author the story of his own youth, when he first came to work as a Lobby Boy in the Grand Budapest, becoming the protégé—and friend—of M. Gustave.
Aiding Gustave during the reading of Madame D’s will, assisting in the theft a painting (“Boy with Apple”) left to him in that will, helping him hide it, break—
Well, to tell any more would be to ruin the rest of the joy of discovering the incredible world of characters that Anderson has devised to entertain us, played in the sardonic, dead-pan style that makes Anderson’s movies so wonderful to watch. With actors such as Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Bob Balaban, Edward Norton, Jason Schwartzman, and even Jeff Goldblum as a—GASP!—ethical lawyer in charge of Madame D’s estate, not a moment goes by without being able to think “Wait? They’re in this movie, too?”
My only [admittedly minor] issue with the film is that, after immersing us in the world that is Gustave’s Grand Budapest, and then extricating us back out through his various narrative frames, bringing us back to the girl as she finishes reading the book, we are left with such a sudden END that it is a bit jarring. Not that I feel like the film needed some grand wrap-up or anything, but the abruptness of the end just caught me a bit.
What it did NOT do, however, is convince me to not recommend this movie to you.
Go and see The Grand Budapest Hotel. You’ll enjoy it.
If not, then you don’t have a humorous bone in your body, or appreciation for storytelling at all.