Jennie’s Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Letter Grade:

The Good:

All of the Artistic Aspects
Great Cast

The Bad:

The R Rating Limits It

Cast & Crew:

Directed By: Wes Anderson
Starring: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Léa Seydoux, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, and more

Rated R for language, some sexual content and violence

The story opens with an author (Tom Wilkinson) revisiting how his younger self (Jude Law) came about the story of The Grand Budapest Hotel and its current owner (F. Murray Abraham)/ former lobby boy (Tony Revolori) Zero Moustafa.  It is sort of a story within a story within a story.  Luckily the main focus of the film resides with the early 1930’s storyline.  The main story is set in a fictionalized European styled location called Republic of Zubrowka.  In an also fictionalized history that somewhat mimics the years leading up to World War II.  So much so, that there is an occupation of the hotel towards the end of the movie by the ZZ (seemingly replacing the Nazi SS).  This movie, like all Wes Anderson movies, is quirky and strange throughout.  This one however is not so far over the edge that is distractingly so.  With many of his films, about 1/3 of the way through you’re thinking “No one is actually like this” and start just focusing on the absurdities. Not that this one isn’t absurd in many ways, but something about it already being set in a fictional place in an alternate history makes this OK.

GHB_3133 2013?02?06.CR2There’s no denying that Anderson makes gorgeous movies and that something about them draws great actors to want to be part of them.  The cast of this movie boasts nearly 20 Oscar nominations between all of them.  I can really only scratch the surface on the acting performances in this film, there are just too many great actors to touch on all of them.  Ralph Fiennes is delightful as the beloved and devoted concierge of the hotel, Monsieur Gustave H.  The relative newcomer Tony Revolori holds his own as the young Zero and has the mannerism and line delivery that fits perfectly in this type of film.  There are several cameos by some of Anderson’s go to actors, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson most notably.  I was disappointed that veteran actress Angela Lansbury was unable to commit to the role as Madame D., but Tilda Swinton (and certainly her makeup artists) did a great job in her brief role.

Digital Fusion Image Library TIFF FileThe use of miniatures, marvelous title cards, matte paintings, unusual aspect ratios, and other artistic stylings are very well done.  It has a vintage movie making style reminiscent of the great Georges MélièsI was immediately and consistently drawn to the way this movie looks.  The 4: 3 (square-ish) aspect ratio that is used predominantly throughout the film lends itself perfectly to the symmetrical style that Anderson has become known for.  Every detail was beautiful, clearly thought out and worked perfectly with the story. I enjoyed this movie far more than I expected to, much like Moonrise Kingdom, but even more so. It never misses a beat.  It is fast paced, funny, well shot, well written, beautifully acted, and at only 100 minutes, it never feels as though it’s dragging.

My only real objection to it, is that I don’t really think it needed to be rated R.  Now, I don’t mean it doesn’t earn its R rating, I mean that I think the moments that earn it that rating seem unnecessary.  There is one brief scene of nudity that could easily have been cut and the swearing in the screenplay could have easily been curbed to a more PG-13 level.  Not that I think teenagers are sneaking in to obscure indie type movies, it just changes the audience in general that will be willing to give it a chance.

GHB_6852 2013?01?21.CR2All that being said, I would definitely recommend this movie. The very full, surprisingly diverse crowd in the theater I was at, I believe would agree with me.  There was even an ovation as the credits rolled. I don’t know if it’s necessary (or even available to you in your area) to see it on the big screen, but it’s a fun movie that I would watch again curled up on my couch.

*Images courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Jennie Stoddart (24 Posts)

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