The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson – 2014) A

This really is one of my favorite Wes Anderson films. Anderson uses many techniques, color pallets and even aspect ratios to tell the story of Gustav H. the concierge of the Grand Budapest between the wars. The story is set in a fictitious eastern European country named Zubrowka and in a smart opening is told to us through the aging Zero Moustafa the lobby boy who is retelling it to an author whose book with the story is being read by a girl in the cemetery at the opening of the film. Anderson is really a divisive filmmaker and even those who like him might not like all his work (I do not care for The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou). This one is no exception and will not make those who dislike his films fans all of a sudden. I just loved his work here where he composes shots so perfectly, his characters are as quirky as usual, the dialogue is a wonderful mix of high-brow with deadpan profanity as an exclamation point. He also mixes live action and stop-motion animation, comedy with shocking violence, Brooklyn accents with proper British ones,…. It just works.

The film is a heist film, a murder mystery, a prison escape but really above all it’s about a world that is changing and Gustav who is mourning the change. He is a gentleman who loves a certain way of life and traditions that are being eroded by time, politics and an upcoming war. Ralph Fiennes in the role of Gustav is fantastic. His delivery of the dialogue and mannerisms are just perfect. Like almost every Anderson film is, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a fairy tale but somehow it feels like these people are real somewhere, possibly in Zubrowka.

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