MOVIE REVIEW: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” stars Ralph Fiennes (Schindler’s List, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2), Tony Revolori (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Dope), F. Murray Abraham (Amadeus, Mighty Aphrodite), Edward Norton (Fight Club, The Incredible Hulk ), Jude Law (Captain Marvel, Black Sea), Adrien Brody (Midnight in Paris, The Pianist), Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project, John Wick), Jeff Goldblum (Thor: Ragnarok, Isle of Dogs), Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird, Loving Vincent), Tilda Swinton (Snowpiercer, Doctor Strange), Harvey Keitel (Reservoir Dogs, The Ridiculous 6), Jason Schwartzman (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, The Polka King), Bill Murray (Ghostbusters, St. Vincent), Tom Wilkinson (The Lone Ranger , Selma), Mathieu Amalric (Munic, Quantum of Solace), Léa Seydoux (Spectre, The Lobster), and Owen Wilson (Midnight in Paris, Cars 3). It is written and directed by Wes Anderson (Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom). After inquiring about the history of The Grand Budapest Hotel, a young writer (Law) is told the story about a lobby boy named Zero (Revolori) and his crazy adventure with his boss, hotel concierge M. Gustave (Fiennes).
Finally, I’m dipping back into the Wes Anderson vault. It’s always a joy to explore this director’s filmography, as he is quite possibly one of the most on-point filmmakers working in the industry right now. To me, he never misses the mark. Sure, there could be movies that could’ve been better, but what was made was still highly entertaining and recommendable nonetheless. And “Grand Budapest Hotel”? Probably one of his finest achievements in cinema. Goodness gracious guys, was this a cinematic feat. All around it’s meticulous, awe-inspiring, and just downright charming. If you thought Anderson reached his roof, he straight up broke through it. The production design, costuming, make-up, cinematography, acting, and story; it’s all top-notch and what I aspire to accomplish one day as a filmmaker myself. Truly, it’s a film geek’s paradise. To really dive into the meat of this review, I want to break down each aspect and simply explain why it’s genius. First, the production design. Anderson probably had his biggest budget to date, as this film is expansive and rich in design. The hotels, parlors, and prison he shoots in are meticulously planned, organized, and downright beautiful. There’s so much to see in each shot as everything is a working part in this giant machine. With that comes astounding costuming and make-up. Everyone has a style and character to them, and some of the prosthetics were awesome (a noteworthy one being Tilda Swinton’s elderly character). It has to be one of the most intricate independent films I have seen when it comes to the look alone. Next, we have our actors. If you thought “Avengers: Endgame” had a big line-up, wait till you get a load of this flick. Stars both regulars of Anderson’s and newbies fill the screen of this stupendous delight, including (but not limited to) Ralph Fiennes, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Saoirse Ronan, and Jude Law. Talk about a wide array of performances, all of which are amazing. Even in the smallest of cameos, everyone did amazing, playing into that Wes Anderson style that we (his fans) all know and love. Newcomer Tony Revolori was also great, and played your typical representative for the audience well. There’s so many good character moments in this, all of which are brought to life by the brilliant cinematography work done to this picture. We all know Wes Anderson’s style, and he’s at full force in this, going far and wide in 1930’s Europe to capture his ingenious look and feel. It’s marvelous and always a treat. I really couldn’t help but smile the entire time I was watching it. To watch an Anderson picture is like recess at school. It’s enjoyable, and exudes a love for filmmaking. You can definitely tell by watching the behind-the-scenes promos for the flick. Everyone who worked on this was like family and all came together to make something wonderful. Another aspect I want to touch on is the score. Alexander Desplat, one of the greats working today, has done it again. With a score that is gigantic, towering, and beautiful, it fills the space of this story masterfully. It’s got the Anderson touch, but takes it a step further with its boisterous organs and foreboding drums. Man, is it great to listen to alone. Finally, we arrive to story. It’s really the only thing where I can see an audience divided, one side being the popcorn goers and the other being the film auteurs. This is solely a character study within a character study within a character study. What does that mean? Well, the film is told from the perspective on one character (Zero) about not only a concierge mentor of his (M. Gustave) but also the importance of the hotel he worked at (The Grand Budapest). It’s a study, but also holds conflict, mystery, and thrills. Because it’s an Anderson film, it’s made to what he wants, never catering to anyone. So, there are choices that audiences can get upset or mulled over by. I found it to be sprawling, entertaining, and just delightful. However, I will express some concerns. I never find nudity or sex to be necessary in a movie, and while it was only two shots (there is also a painting, but… I don’t know, it’s arguable) it was still unnecessary. It actually surprised me that Anderson would do that. He’s usually clean with his storytelling (one of the aspects I admire about him). He even dropped f-bombs in this, which were brash, but I’m not as nitpicky on those as I am nudity and sex. Finally, I wish the movie were longer, solely because of the characters. There’s so many that I wish were explored more because they are so rich in mystery. One notable figure is Willem Dafoe. While “disappointed” seems a bit too harsh, I was kinda let down to find his role so one-dimensional. He’s a crony, I get that, but with that talent and force, I was holding out of any moment that could really sink my teeth into who he is. We got it with the rat in “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and the character was minor. So, this is kinda a backhanded compliment of sorts. With as many characters as he had, I was surprised Anderson was able to juggle all of them at all. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a cinematic achievement in many fields, whether it be production design, score, or cinematography. It’s a lovely picture to explore and it never ceased to amaze me. Besides some minor issues, it’s a must-see. FINAL SCORE: 97%= Juicy Popcorn
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