Wes Anderson's entertaining filmmaking style clicks beautifully into focus for this comical adventure. Films like The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom are packed with amazing detail and terrific characters, but this movie is on another level entirely: fast, smart and engaging, packed with both silly slapstick and intelligent gags. And the sprawling cast is simply wonderful.
It's a story within a story within a story, as an author (Wilkinson) narrates the tale of his 1968 conversation as a young writer (Law) with ageing hotelier Zero (Abraham), who in turn recounts his life as a lobby boy in 1932. Young Zero (Revolori) learned his craft alongside legendary concierge Gustave (Fiennes) at the Grand Budapest Hotel somewhere in Middle Europe, and stuck by Gustave's side when he became embroiled in an inheritance battle with a spoiled heir (Brody) and his evil henchman (Dafoe). As things get increasingly nasty, Zero and his baker girlfriend (Ronan) help Gustave fight for justice, and when that doesn't work he helps orchestrate an elaborate prison escape. Meanwhile, war breaks out twice across Europe.
The double flashback structure makes this a film about the power of storytelling itself, and even more potent is the reminder that we need to remember the old ways, especially as the world changes around us. This simple idea is woven so cleverly into the DNA of the script that it continually takes our breath away, conveying the true importance of history and nostalgia. At the centre, Fiennes gives his best-ever performance, showing a real gift for comedy (who knew?) as he makes the bristly Gustave deeply likeable. His camaraderie with newcomer Revolori is priceless, as are the cameos from an array of Anderson veterans including Murray, Wilson and the always astonishing Swinton.
Anderson keeps everything moving so briskly that we immediately want to see it again, simply to take in all of the details. The plot barely pauses for breath as it races through exciting action, goofy slapstick and dark drama, all infused with Anderson's wry humour. And it looks utterly gorgeous, as production designer Adam Stockhausen heightens reality to an almost mythical level. And as scenes evoke our own personal memories and thoughts, we find ourselves wishing that life was really like this. Which of course is the reason we love stories.
Run time: 100 mins
In Theaters: Friday 28th March 2014
Box Office USA: $59.1M
Distributed by: Fox Searchlight
Production compaines: TSG Entertainment, Scott Rudin Productions, Indian Paintbrush, Studio Babelsberg, American Empirical Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 92%
Fresh: 209 Rotten: 19
IMDB: 8.2 / 10
Director: Wes Anderson
Screenwriter: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes as M. Gustave, Tony Revolori as Zero Moustafa, F. Murray Abraham as Mr. Moustafa, Mathieu Amalric as Serge, Adrien Brody as Dmitri, Willem Dafoe as Jopling, Jeff Goldblum as Kovacs, Harvey Keitel as Ludwig, Jude Law as Young Writer, Bill Murray as M. Ivan, Edward Norton as Henckels, Saoirse Ronan as Agatha, Jason Schwartzman as M. Jean, Léa Seydoux as Clotilde, Tilda Swinton as Madame D., Tom Wilkinson as Author, Owen Wilson as M. Chuck, Florian Lukas as Pinky, Bob Balaban as M. Martin, Fisher Stevens as M. Robin, Wallace Wolodarsky as M. Georges, Waris Ahluwalia as M. Dino, Larry Pine as Mr. Mosher, Karl Markovics as Wolf, Volker Michalowski as Gunther, Daniel Steiner as Anatole, Hendrik von Bültzingslöwen as Ernst, Lisa Kreuzer as Grande Dame, Rainer Reiners as Herr Mendl, Sabine Urig as Laetizia, Claudia Jung as Usherette, Matthias Matschke as Prison Guard, Philipp Sonntag as Monk, Hans Martin Stier as Monk
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