Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Grand Budapest Hotel [A Fat Jesus Quick Hit]

Wes Anderson is a director I want to really delve into at some point. A few years ago I was enamored with 'Moonrise Kingdom' and I've heard great things about 'Fantastic Mr. Fox.' I'd been meaning to actually review this film, 'The Grand Budapest Hotel,' ever since I watched it a few months ago. I was sucked into a colorful, fun and vibrant world. Even if you're unfamiliar with Wes Anderson, 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' would be a good jumping off point, if anyone ever wished to dive in.

'The Grand Budapest Hotel' follows the story of Monsieur Gustave H. and [a young] Zero Moustafa (Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori) as they operate as Concierge and lobby boy at The Grand Budapest Hotel in 1932. The tale is told by [an old] Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) to a young author (Jude Law) who is visiting the hotel long after its heyday. Zero has left his home country, because his family was executed, and wants no part in war, and is the new lobby boy. The Grand Budapest Hotel is thriving in 1932, much due to the fact that it's clientele is wealthy and they all love Gustave. The owner of the hotel is highly secretive and only relays messages through lawyer Deputy Kovacs (Jeff Goldblum). One of the biggest clients is Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), whom Gustave spends a night with before she departs. One night, about a month later, Gustave is informed of Madame D's death and how it is under mysterious circumstances. Gustave, along with Zero, race to the reading of her will, and as it turns out, she left him her most valuable painting, "Boy With Apple." This enrages Madame D's family. Thus begins a series of almost unbelievable events in Gustav and Zero's quest to claim a painting willed to them

This might be the best designed film of the year, as everything in 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' looks astounding. No matter if it's a scene at the hotel itself, at Madame D's estate, traveling through the (fictional) Republic of Zubrowka and even the prison, everything feels authentic. Everything also is colorful, fun and full of life. Even the darker scenes have an air of positive emotion and humor laced into them. The hotel itself becomes as important a character as Gustav and Zero, and that is a testament to the awesome writing. Wes Anderson wrote the screenplay himself. I love it when inanimate things are given a breath of life in film, and that's what Anderson has done with this exquisite hotel. This is taking nothing away from Gustav, Zero (young AND old), Agatha, Kovacs, Dmitri Desgoffe, Inspector Henckels and J.G. Jopling. As each of these characters are expertly done, and have a distinct style that broods off the screen. The acting is also phenomenal, especially the leading duo of Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori. The two have a chemistry you can feel as you watch this film and play off each other well. Saoirse Ronan plays Agatha perfectly and stands out in any scene she is in. Especially the more emotional ones with Tony Revolori. While even more support from Adrien Brody, Jeff Goldblum, Willem Defoe, Edward Norton and F. Murray Abraham, make this one of the best ensemble casts of 2014. The humor helps keep everything humming right along as well. This isn't Will Ferrell humor either, it's well thought out and gut-wrenchingly funny at times. The Society of the Crossed Keys introduction is brilliant. This has a lot to do with the well written script, but it's also a testament to the actors themselves. There's truly smart and witty one-liners all over the place, running gags and even some slap-stick humor. The music and score, by Alexandre Desplat, is quite pleasing as the film wears on, and accents the emotional feel of a given scene greatly.

Now there are things that hurt this film for me, but nothing in the long run that would keep anyone from watching it. There are scenes, mostly involving Madam D's extended family that just feel out of place. This film isn't long, only about an hour and forty minutes, but even then, it felt like a two hour film. Trim some of the draggy scenes and you've got a well paced film from start to finish. 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' is a film that will suck you into the most lively and colorful world of 2014...that is set in the 1930s. The acting, style, writing and humor are all top notch. Wes Anderson has made a truly energetic and original comedy that needs not to be overlooked if you're a fan of film.

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