The Grand Budapest Hotel Review

Check in to The Grand Budapest Hotel this speing!

Check in to The Grand Budapest Hotel this speing!

Jonathan Gonzalez, Impact Staff

The adventures of Gustav M, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. Wes Anderson is a director who I feel one must have an acquired taste to enjoy. He heavily uses surrealism in his films such as verbal non-sequitirs, using pictures to establish a location and having an easily recognizable look to his sets and costumes. At times a person who isn’t a fan can easily be swayed to his corner, such as the excellent adaptation of Fantastic Mr. Fox and others people can be split on such as the odd but enjoyable Life Aquatic. However, today’s review is one that I feel anyone can easily get into, fan of Anderson’s or not, due not only to how hilarious it is but the surprising amount of thought and depth put into it.


The story for The Grand Budapest Hotel is very creative and jarringly clever. The narrative of the film is the beginning of the depth that will be displayed later on as the film establishes that it’s narrated by a man simply known as Author in the mid 80’s about his encounter with Zero Moustafa in 1968 which by then is taken over by his younger self, and all the while the narration and events that unfold is being read by an unnamed woman in a cemetery. Confused yet? I know I am! Though kidding aside the idea of a person reading a recanting of a conversation taken seventy years prior being used as the film’s narration is quite clever and adds layers to the story. The story itself follows M. Gustav, owner of The Grand Budapest Hotel and Zero the new lobby boy and Gustav’s close friend. The film spends time establishing the relationship between the two main characters, developing the two perfectly which is great considering they’re some of the few who have any sense of characterization to them. During the early portions the film never rushes so we’re easily introduced to the two main characters and get to know them well. For a time things are simplistic but overall enjoyable and it’s only when Madame D., a frequent guest at the hotel and one of Gustav’s many elderly companions, is found murdered and in her will Gustav is awarded a valuable portrait. From here things really begin to roll as Gustav is placed under arrest for the murder of Madame D. and with the help of Zero must find a way to clear his name. By the time Gustav is imprisoned the film becomes more and more interesting as Anderson adds different genre elements to his story. The film quickly but smoothly transitions from jail break film to murder mystery to horror and finally to war film all the while remaining easy to follow and comedic throughout. The murder mystery aspect of it is very obvious but nevertheless provides for many great and memorable moments from the cast. The tone of the story also managed to capture me completely off guard as it quickly becomes very dark and violent. The moments when the tone becomes dark are surprisingly effective, at times creating tension by having a slow pace and keeping the audience in suspense and paying off with strong frightening moments every so often. And still all the while the film succeeds in still being comedic and that is one of its greatest strengths. Grand Budapest Hotel is unbelievably funny from start to finish with Anderson effectively using verbal non-sequitirs and odd but creative visuals to make a truly funny film. The volume of the comedy changes every so often with jokes being played out subtly and naturally to who the character is to being loud and boisterous and never once missing a single step. And through it all: The multiple genres, the shocking dark tone and the endless humor, The Grand Budapest Hotel manages to have immense charm and heart.


The characters for The Grand Budapest Hotel are likeable but only an elite few are allowed to be fully developed.


Gustav is a very surreal but nevertheless charming and funny character. He immediately sets himself as a likeable character the moment we meet him from his incongruous personality as well as his kind demeanor. The character in a way seems as if he has no flaws: he comes off as angry and arrogant at times but has a good heart. He sleeps with old, rich women but does not desire their wealth. Overall Gustav is a likeable character that is easy to root for.


Juxtaposed to Gustav’s incongruous nature is Zero who is the straight man of the duo. Zero is a very quiet character but manages to leave a good impression. He’s very loyal and over time develops into a stronger character. His relationship with Gustav is one of his stronger points as the duo works well together and each one builds off of the other creating not only great moments of humor but great moments of character development.


There’s a whole rogues’ gallery of supporting characters in The Grand Budapest Hotel and many serve very valuable purposes, such as Agatha, Zero’s love interest who aids in Gustav’s escape and Dmitri the film’s antagonist. At times the various characters will have their own moments to shine and be funny and memorable but overall this is due to work of the actors as the other characters themselves unfortunately have no real personality but thankfully still serve a purpose.


Acting for The Grand Budapest Hotel is strong.


Ralph Fiennes does an excellent job becoming the character of Gustav. Like Gustav, Fiennes is incredibly charming and at times manages to be both subtle and loud, all the while giving a truly hilarious and heartfelt performance. Likewise Tony Revolori manages to give a great performance, being completely subtle and like his character works well alongside Fiennes, again being the straight man to Fiennes’ hilariously odd character.


The remainder of the cast manages to give their characters life and personality. Law and Abraham have quite a few good moments together as the Young Author and Old Moustafa with the latter having a chance to give a truly moving performance from time to time. Brody’s role is surprisingly lacking but he nevertheless manages to leave his mark by being intimidating and boisterously humorous. Dafoe, despite playing an important character, comes off as having less to do as he hardly has any lines of dialogue but manages to be incredibly frightening all the same. Norton manages to leave his mark in his brief role as a conflicted police officer as does Murray in the scant few minutes he’s in. In fact the side characters all around have brief but important roles but still overall manage to give good and memorable performances in their own right.


Lastly the visuals and designs of The Grand Budapest Hotel are incredibly creative and give that imaginative Anderson feel to everything. Anderson’s use of illustrations and simple animations to establish location and give a feeling of distance is very creative and though obvious it all still is very interesting to watch. The sets and costumes are very colorful even in scenes that are dark and cold. Anderson also utilizes a great deal of choreography for when characters are in groups they often move like organized clockwork which continues to add to the feeling of surrealism as well as being humorously inventive and a sight to behold.


Final Thoughts: The Grand Budapest Hotel is a very creative and hilarious film. The story has depth as well as utilizing many different genre elements all the while being funny from start to finish, the characters are charming and likeable, the acting is strong even with those who don’t have much to do and the sets, costumes and overall design of the film is creative and a pleasure to look at. I was astounded by how much I loved The Grand Budapest Hotel and I recommend anyone who has a weekend free and clear to check in and enjoy themselves.


Verdict: Full Price