Review – The Grand Budapest Hotel

Poster for 2014 comedy drama The Grand Budapest Hotel

Genre: Comedy
Certificate: 15
UK Release Date: 7th March 2014
Runtime: 100 minutes
Director: Wes Anderson
Writer: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Edward Norton, Bill Murray 
Synopsis: When one of his regular visitors dies, an eccentric hotel concierge must go on the run to protect the rare painting that he has been bequeathed.

 

 

In indie film circles, a new film from Wes Anderson is big news. As such, excitement for The Grand Budapest Hotel has been building for some time, especially considering the galaxy of stars and Anderson regulars set to star in the madcap comedy. Thankfully, it’s far from being a disappointment.

Legendary concierge at the titular hotel Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) receives a valuable painting in the will of a deceased patron (Tilda Swinton). Her son (Adrien Brody) is not happy with this and sends his villainous henchman (Willem Dafoe) after Gustave. This initiates a bizarre series of events that forces Gustave to flee the hotel with the help of new lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori) and his bakery sweetheart (Saoirse Ronan).

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a trademark Wes Anderson quirkcom. The colours are bright and bold and the gags are precision-tooled. Even towards the end of the movie when it spirals into a madcap, screwball caper, there’s the sense that everything has been perfectly calibrated.

| “You should take a long look at his ugly mug this morning. He’s actually become a dear friend.”

Ralph Fiennes is masterful in the central role, showcasing pinpoint comic timing and a level of camp that fits snugly into the stylised world that Anderson creates throughout The Grand Budapest Hotel. He has great chemistry with Tony Revolori, who shines in his first big feature role with some brilliant comic beats.

The supporting cast is a revolving door of American comedy talent, complete with the usual Wes Anderson regulars popping up in excellent cameos. This does threaten to drown The Grand Budapest Hotel at times, but the film is never far enough away from a joke for it to matter.

In fact, the problem that ultimately prevents The Grand Budapest Hotel from reaching the heights of Moonrise Kingdom is simply that it is too light. It’s enjoyable as it plays out, but moments and scenes disappear from the memory as soon as Anderson skilfully cuts away to the next well-engineered scenario. It’s like eating a single marshmallow – sweet, but it leaves no impact.

| “Did he just throw my cat out of the window?”

The Grand Budapest Hotel is, much like American Hustle, a film that manages to be flimsy and unmemorable fun from start to finish. There’s a charm to Wes Anderson’s filmmaking that manages to endure, but this won’t go down as amongst his best works.

 

Pop or Poop?

Rating: Pop!

Wes Anderson is a filmmaker with a truly singular vision, and The Grand Budapest Hotel is a perfect example of what he can achieve. Aided by excellent performances from its ensemble cast, the film screwballs towards its conclusion with madcap genius.

Unfortunately, it’s just a tad too slight to make any real impression in the way that Moonrise Kingdom did in 2012.

 

Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments section.

2 thoughts on “Review – The Grand Budapest Hotel

  • 04/09/2014 at 02:21
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    Not really sure what you mean by “just too slight to make any real impression.” I thoroughly enjoyed Moonrise Kingdom, and felt it was the first time in recent years where a live-action movie had the visuals and the performances reminiscent of a cartoon. And in that same vein, The Grand Budapest Hotel further built upon those aesthetics, further solidifying Wes Anderson’s unique style. Though, I suppose in my case, since I haven’t watched it again since that first time in the theater, perhaps it hasn’t made a big enough impression on me. Then again, I haven’t watched Moonrise Kingdom again either. But that’s how I am with most films. I sometimes don’t watch things again for years, just waiting to forget certain details so that re-watching it will be exciting again.

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