Grand Budapest Hotel is quirky, dramatic
Directed by the legendary Wes Anderson — whose works include Moonrise Kingdom, The Darjeeling Limited, and The Royal Tenenbaums — The Grand Budapest Hotel is a whimsical whirlwind through the adventuresome life of a concierge and his lobby boy.
The movie is a bright and colorful spectacle set against the backdrop of Europe during the World Wars, which ensures an interesting and compelling duality to the film and the story.
The outrageous and sometimes hilarious plot is driven by its strong main characters, played by a cast that is fairly typical of a Wes Anderson film: Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), the concierge; Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), his lobby boy; and a slew of eclectic and eccentric guests of the hotel, including characters played by Adrien Brody, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, and Tilda Swinton.
The plot follows Gustave H, his role as the main concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel — located in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka — and his journey to determine his innocence in the unfortunately-timed death of an elderly ex-lover, Madame D (Swinton).
When it is discovered that Madame D has left Gustave a valuable painting, her family has Gustave imprisoned for her murder. Zero must help him first escape, and then travel to a monastery to prove his innocence, all while being trailed by an assassin (Willem Dafoe).
Though the.3 film ends somewhat sadly and rather abruptly, the sense of whimsy and wonder is maintained through the colorful sets, costumes, and the fantastic acting.
The star-studded cast serves as an added attraction rather than a support to carry the film, and Revolori manages to make his major big-screen debut stand out even against the talented big names that accompany his performance.
There is a particular brand of humor from which much of the film draws its charm, evocative of an absurd 1930s madcap stage comedy. It’s vintage, but a vintage that is so quirky that it feels as if it could be set in a parallel universe.
Anderson’s writing and production talent marries perfectly with the absurd storylines that he borrows from writer Stefan Zweig’s novels Beware of Pity and The Post-Office Girl.
The film contains many nods to Zweig’s writing and even Zweig himself in the character The Author, played in the film’s present by Tom Wilkinson and in flashbacks by Law.
Physical humor, ridiculous situations, and just enough drama without going completely overboard are the perfect blend for this cast and Anderson’s signature style.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what it is about Anderson’s films that is so enjoyable for audiences — most of them become huge box office successes, despite limited releases. They’re quirky, unusual, and fun — but above all, they’re the ultimate escapist opportunity.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is no exception: The colorful cast of characters, rollercoaster plot line, and unusual narrative structure and setup are sure to not only captivate viewers, but also take them along for a magical journey.
The movie will show at The Manor Theatre in Squirrel Hill through Wednesday.