Watching The Grand Budapest Hotel is like watching a work of art. Director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom) has created a visual masterpiece that will excite your imagination and transport you to another world.
The majority of the film is set in the fictional town of Zubrowska during the 1930s. We enter the majesty of a soviet-era hotel. Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness developed the screenplay, inspired by the works of Stefan Zweig. The story, recounted by aged author (Tom Wilkinson), follows the intriguing tale of a legendary concierge. Monsieur Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) is the affable womaniser in charge of the Grand Budapest Hotel. When he is bestowed a priceless painting in the will of an elderly flame, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), trouble ensues. Hunted by the Madame’s sinister son (Adrien Brody), and police commissioner Henckels (Edward Norton), Gustave must enlist the help of his lobby boy (Tony Revolori) to survive. The story twists and turns, taking you through moments of comedy and intrigue. The narrative is always compelling and inventive.
The cast of The Grand Budapest Hotel are simply superb. Ralph Fiennes, in his first collaboration with Anderson, is a comedic revelation. His characterisation of Monsieur Gustave is inspired and perfect to carry us through this quirky narrative.
The heart of the story stems from the friendship between Gustave and his lobby boy Zero. The concierge takes him under his wing, and the chemistry between the pair is heart-warming. Their shared worldview and love for the Grand Budapest propels them through their journey.
The entire cast deliver those quirky, almost deadpan, performances that we have begun to expect from Anderson’s work. You will delight in the extraordinary array of acclaimed actors to spot during this film. There are appearances from Bill Murray, F Murray Abraham, Harvey Keitel, Jeff Goldblum, Jason Schwartzman, Jude Law and Willem Dafoe, just to name a few.
It is impossible to go past the visual aesthetic of The Grand Budapest Hotel. The beauty of each frame is instantly striking from the opening shot. Every single detail of each frame has been perfectly constructed. There is simply so much to feast your eyes on. Anderson perfectly captures the period, showcasing the majesty and beauty of this time gone past.
Wes Anderson described how he and a small team travelled around Eastern Europe in search of the perfect hotel in which to set their film. Instead, they settled on shooting in the studio by constructing their own wonderful creation. Made in miniature, the Grand Budapest Hotel is a decorative and alluring building. Anderson has cited a department store in Gorlitz as his primary inspiration. He described in an interview with Fresh Air that the film is a “Pastiche of the greatest hits of Eastern Europe.”
The costume design, by three-time Academy Award-winner Milena Canonero, is exceptional. Each character is brought to life by each strangely unique costume. Every tiny detail is noticeable in keeping with the greater aesthetic of the film. The colour palette of The Grand Budapest Hotel is vibrant and rich. The symmetry of every frame is complemented by the colour scheme. Simply put: each element of design works in unison and expertly conjures up the world of this wonderful story.
Wes Anderson is beloved by fans for his distinctive touch, and that isn’t lost at all in this film. The elements of his movies that we have come to know and love are all strikingly present here. Fans of his work will not be disappointed, but this film shall attract new admirers as well. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a visual delight, guaranteed to immerse you in its magical world.
THE REEL SCORE: 10/10