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article imageReview: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is a five-star experience Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Mar 15, 2014 in Entertainment
Inspired by the works of Stefan Zweig, director Wes Anderson’s latest film, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ is a story within a story within a story that focuses the exploits of a distinguished concierge and an ambitious lobby boy.
Over time, the term “movie magic” lost its meaning. The wonder of the moving picture on a larger-than-life screen is old hat now. Computer-generated images are the norm, not the exception. And formulas and plotlines are despairingly recycled just to fill the marquee each week. But then you come across a film that is a breath of fresh air in a sea of submission. A true auteur who loves his craft and wants to convey his admiration to the audience so they can share in the experience. Writer/director Wes Anderson’s latest tour de force, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is such a film.
The narrative unfolds in three time periods. In 1985, an author (Tom Wilkinson) creates a video prelude to his novel that chronicles a fantastic story that was told to his younger self (Jude Law) over dinner in 1968 by an eccentric named Mr. Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham). In the 1930s, Zero (Tony Revolori) was hired as a lobby boy in The Grand Budapest Hotel and subsequently became the protégé of legendary concierge Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Fiennes). Together they negotiate a series of adventures, including an art theft and jail break, while trying to stay out of the clutches of the advancing army.
Anderson has a particular style that is instantly and absolutely recognizable. While this style has not evolved over time, it consistently presents an impressive viewing experience that is both stunning and enchanting. Every detail in every scene tells part of the story. The narrator guides the audience in observing these details, such as the solitary dinner guests or aging facilities. Certain colour palettes are selected for particular situations, such as the harvest hues leading up to the momentous supper. In this case, Anderson even utilized the aspect ratio of the picture to distinguish between time periods, using 1.37, 1.85 and 2.35:1 even though theatres were under strict instruction that the film is to be project in 1.85:1. And there is generally at least one scene inspired by Keystone Kops in which characters are shown walking through various, unrelated locations.
A quick review of Anderson’s filmography reveals his creations are anchored by eccentric but appealing characters delivering quick-witted dialogue. Zero and M. Gustave’s relationship is unusual as the lobby boy swiftly becomes the concierge’s confidante and pupil. Wishing nothing more than to please his renowned superior and keep his job, Zero hangs on his every word – instruction or otherwise – and tries to anticipate his needs and actions. Beginning each morning by drawing a pencil mustache on his face, Zero eventually becomes M. Gustave’s closest family.
Always perfectly casted, those already mentioned embody their roles completely. Also noteworthy is Saoirse Ronan who portrays Agatha, a talented baker’s assistant who makes the most delectable sweets and falls in love with Zero. In addition, many of Anderson’s former accomplices make appearances in this picture, including Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody and Edward Norton.
Fans of the director will not be disappointed, almost expecting the bit of meandering that occurs in the middle that is immediately forgiven in the context of the whole.
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, F. Murray Abraham and Tony Revolori
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