The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

  • Time: 100 min
  • Genre: Adventure | Comedy | Drama
  • Director: Wes Anderson
  • Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Owen Wilson


‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.


  • The story of Zero Moustafa and how he becomes the owner of The Grand Budapest Hotel, from first meeting Gustave H to becoming his most trusted friend. If you’ve ever seen a Wes Anderson film (The Darjeeling Limited, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom) then you know just how strange and unique his style is. Boasting a huge cast could this be his biggest and best film yet?


    I’m a big fan of Anderson’s style where it has a cartoony, or stop-motion kind of feel to it. It’s very different to your typical film and for a film fanatic, it’s nice to get that different feel to a film. If you too like his style then you won’t go…
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  • If there has ever been a more esoteric film, The Grand Budapest Hotel is it. All the fans of Wes Anderson’s films will immediately pick up on the formalities of his work and enjoy the film immensely. But don’t think that if you haven’t seen any of his films previously that you won’t see it because you’ll be missing out on some larger picture. Rather, it is a great introduction to his world. I think that may have to do with Ralph Fiennes, who comes fresh to the films of Wes Anderson.

    Indeed, the majority of the film falls on the more than competent shoulders of Fiennes. This film, however, is a huge departure for him as he usually plays insidious characters (Harry Waters in In Bruges, Amon Göth in Schindler’s List, Voldermort in the Harry Potter films). He plays Gustave H., the bubbly concierge at the titular hotel, where he wines and dines many of the older female clientele. One such guest, Madame D. (the wonderfully enigmatic Tilda Swinton), ends up being murdered and Gustave is the prime suspect. This is after he becomes the most profitable recipient of Madame D.’s will.

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  • This film is recommended.

    My expectations were high after hearing the nearly unanimous praise lavished on Wes Anderson’s latest absurdist comedy, The Grand Hotel Budapest. Critics adored this small gem of a film, including my esteemed colleague, Toby. While I was neither overwhelmed or underwhelmed by this well-made film, I greatly admired it, especially for its grandiose style and artistry on every technical level, but I never truly connected with all of the characters or their situations emotionally. Let’s just say I was whelmed.

    Like his other films (Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom), there remains the director’s idiosyncratic calling cards: Characters never walk or stroll, they gallop or scurry haphazardly about. Plots are hatched and become more convoluted than needed. Violence erupts unexpectedly. Title cards organize the action. Vibrant colors and quick hints of irony are in full view.

    Yes, there is always that certain whimsy and boldness to Anderson’s cast of characters (and his recurring repertoire of actors) and his meticulous attention to detail in its setting. However, this time, his film carries with it a more serious undertone which tends to repeatedly undercut the farcical elements of the tale. There is much wild abandon and dollops of insightful and witty dialog, but this time around, The Grand Hotel Budapest never pushes itself beyond all-out farce mode. The overall effect seems a tad labored.

    The film is told in flashbacks, a story within a story within a story, like an elaborate Russian matryoshka nesting doll. The film begins with a student is reading a book in a cemetery that leads to its author (Tom Wilkinson) reminiscing about the glory and heydays of the impeccable Grand Hotel Budapest, which leads to a young writer (Jude Law) meeting a former Lobby Boy named Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham in the later sequence and Tony Revolori in the earlier ones) who reminiscing about its clientele and his mentor the hotel’s chief concierge known as Gustave H. (a winning Ralph FIennes), a fastidious and proper dandy who beds the elderly ladies who stay there. Tilda Swinton (unrecognizable in superb hair and make-up) plays one of his conquests, Madame D., who bequeaths an expensive painting to her lover, causing a chain of events that becomes the main storyline in this tale of murder and mayhem. It’s all cleverly constructed, perhaps too lovingly layered by Anderson, but it is precisely the film’s structure that becomes a plot device which slows the film’s comic momentum whenever it leaves the silly hi-jinks of M. Gustave H. and Company.

    But, dear moviegoers, The Grand Hotel Budapest has so many virtues to warrant your viewing. Starting with Anderson’s solid direction and wonderful vision, the film boasts excellence on every technical and artistic level: great acting and cameos by many fine actors, memorable costumes by Milena Canonero surrounded by opulent production design by Adam Stockhausen, and Alexandre Desplat’s lyrical East European inspired score. Kudos also go to the stunning photography by Robert D. Yeoman and expert editing by Barney Pilling. This film is sure to garner many awards this upcoming movie season.

    The Grand Hotel Budapest is a well-intentioned and well-crafted film by a talented director and his creative team. It is a diverting trifle, deliciously entertaining, delightfully nutty, and yet bittersweet, like a confectionist treat from Mendl’s. Too bad it’s not all that filling. GRADE: B

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  • In contrast to other reviewers, I am quite disappointed of this film.

    The weakest link is the script and especially the dialog. The film starts of in an extreme tempo, as fashionable nowadays, probably not to risk boring any potential young and inexperienced viewers, maybe to appear smart and fresh – with the consequence of the audience losing half of what is going on. The extraordinarily many famous actors do not reach anywhere to potential – instead it seems like squeezing in as many stars as possible in roles that do not offer full scope for their talent.

    The second character, Zero Moustafa, as young played by an Indian-looking (apparently Latino) actor, as old by a white Caucasian (why?), may ring fresh with current political news for a British/American audience as he is a refugee who has had to leave his home country due to war – and due to this fact the constant nonsense-speaking Gustave excuses himself for a “racist” remark. And then they run around lightly clad in the snow together for much of the rest of the movie.

    This movie doesn’t have anything to separate itself from previous quirky and dark humor filled films that Wes Anderson has released, it doesn’t have the heart from Moonrise Kingdom, the charisma of The Fantastic Mr. Fox, or the mystique from The Darjeeling Limited. Yes, every director may have their own styles and tweak it differently for each of their works, but Wes Anderson only adds some minor plot differences to his films to make them slightly “different,” yet still far too similar. I have been fine with them in the past, but by The Grand Budapest Hotel, his fourth main entry, the goofy style becomes a little tedious and actually difficult to get through in some scenes. Many trivial things are presented as important matter in drawn out sequences, making it all the more difficult to watch.

    For me, not finding anything funny, the only joy is the great cinematography, the photo and the music. The whole show is certainly wrapped in luxury paper – it feels like a waste with such weak content. But dollar-wise it might still be a success.

  • “You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that’s what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant… oh, fuck it.”

    “A number of years ago, while suffering from a mild case of ‘summer fever’ (a chronic form of pulmonary rheumatism) I decided to spend the month of August in the spa village of Nebelhorn below the Alpine Sudetenwaltz — and had taken up rooms in the Grand Budapest — a picturesque, elaborate and once widely-celebrated establishment. I expect some of you will know it. It was off-season and, by that time, decidedly out-of-fashion; and it had already begun its descent into shabbiness and eventual demolition.”
    — The Author, The Grand Budapest Hotel

    Variety reports that The Grand Budapest Hotel has grossed a tremendous box-office take of $103.8 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing film ever made by Hollywood power director Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums is second with $71 million worldwide). But let me be honest, I’ve never been a fan of Wes Anderson’s films despite his artistic, palpable visuals and undeniable cult following. As a friend of mine quickly quipped in response to his newest release, “Anderson is a fraudulent artist.”

    However, there was something special about The Grand Budapest Hotel; a pivotal shift in direction that not only gave this film a broader appeal, but it has become an instant five-star winner for me–someone vehemently unattracted to the typical Wes Anderson craft of storytelling. Here’s what I have to say in defense of Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel, and why this film works:

    In The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson’s storyline revolves around one of his most uncomfortable subject to date–war. The story begins in present day unveiling the ultimate decay and demise of the once regal Grand Budapest Hotel, but rewinds in a few decades of flashbacks from the mid-1980s, back to the late-1960s and focusing predominantly in the 1930s in the fictional European country of Zubrowka.

    As director Wes Anderson explains, “Our design for the movie was The Grand Budapest Hotel when it was at its peak, and I just thought we’d make it look like a wedding cake or ice cream parlor with these pastel purple, pink, and red colors. It’s the anti-Overlook Hotel. And then in the ‘60s, it’s more like the Overlook Hotel, and then we make it communist.”

    The fictional strife, much like the country, involves the invasion and occupation by army-men titled the “ZZ” who patrol the ins and outs of the once beautiful Zubrowkan republic. 1930s, ZZ army sounds a little familiar, right? The SS, German occupation ring a bell? But the decline of the republic has no shortage of humor, spectacular dialogue and visual-sensory overload in Anderson’s whimsical tale.

    Before I explain my qualms with Anderson’s previous films, it would be irresponsible to not uphold him has one of the most visionary directors of the present day. His artistic creativity and surreal visualizations for the world he creates allows me to boast that he’s one of the best visual directors in cinema right now. His pictures are visually recognizable, but his creative eye to lens system is more methodical than I imagined. With Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson and his director of photography, Robert D. Yeoman, shot each time period in the aspect ratio of its era. That means the movie is more or less square in the 1930s and widescreen for the present day.

    While a portion of this may ring true with Grand Budapest Hotel, the saving grace of the film is the whimsical, outlandish Ralph Fiennes who brings a sense of comedy that no Anderson alum has accomplished in previous his previous films. The director reeled in his usual A-list troupe including Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzmann, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Adrien Brody and Harvey Keitel to name a few. All actors showed up to play, and they all played damn well; effortlessly in sync with their designated characters.

    What initially captured my attention with this Anderson film was it’s historical backbone juxtaposed in a comical, fairytale-esque setting. Anderson’s historical spin and consistently humorous dialogue is the precise edge I had been waiting for from this director, and he finally delivered.

    If you appreciate the art of cinema, or if you’re looking for a good laugh provided from some of Hollywood’s best actors, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a ticket worth the entry fee; an opinion provided by a Wes Anderson skeptic.

  • If you were to watch a marathon of your favorite director’s films, you’d begin to pick up on different things but more specifically the director’s style. There would be some hits, there would be some misses but overall, you would gain a broader understanding and appreciation for their style. In this case the director in the spotlight is Wes Anderson. Wes Anderson has a very specific style and once you are aware of it, you can watch any of his films and automatically know it is a Wes Anderson film. So what are some Anderson-esque characteristics? Some include: tracking shots, symmetry, the story has some kind of family element to it, it takes place in the past, and is filled with palettes and patterns. Anderson’s latest effort, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is a film that beautifully shows off his unique style in one of his best films yet.

    THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune — all against the back-drop of a suddenly and dramatically changing Continent.

    Broken down into five chapters, we find ourselves in a tale within another tale. Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) informs the audience that an author’s imagination is not indeed continuously at work to create a new story until the public acknowledges you as a writer, then they will come to you with the stories. This is when we go back to 1985 when Mr. Moustafa is about to tell a young writer (Jude Law) about the story in how he became the unofficial owner of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Within Mr. Moustafa’s story is where we will find the first layer of reasons why The Grand Budapest Hotel shows off Anderson’s style so well. See, the Grand Budapest Hotel is located in the Republic of Zubrowka, a country that doesn’t actually exist, which allows Anderson to wallow in his love for patterns and bursts of colors. The Grand Budapest Hotel can be Wes Anderson’s most vibrant movie to date as he is able to take passion to a whole new level from patterns on the furniture in the hotel’s lobby to the placing of trees among the mountainside the hotel sits upon.

    Once we get into the story, we get to meet the second layer which is actually quite unlike Anderson’s style of using the same actors within his film, our two main characters, Monsieur Gustave (Ralph Finnes) and Zero (Tony Revolori). Neither has worked with Anderson before and they are truly superb and the film would have been a failure without them. Ralph Finnes’ character is larger than life with all these overblown characteristics but yet he manages to make Gustave very human-like and delivers perfect timing for all his gestures and jokes. Finnes wouldn’t have went so far with the character if he didn’t have Tony Revolori to play off of. Revolori’s Zero is a young lobby boy who is willing to learn everything from Gustave, after all his job is dependent on Gustave’s approval. The result of Zero soaking up everything Gustave feeds him is pure comic excellence and Anderson realizes that as well with Zero being in almost every major scene that Gustave is in as well.

    The supporting cast, the third layer of why this film just works, is just as superb with familiar faces. The film includes appearances by Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, and Adrien Brody. But don’t be fooled, these aren’t just big name actors making a cameo. Each one of these roles actually mean something to the story and can even tell their own story. The final layer would be Robert D. Yeoman’s photography and Alexandre Desplat’s score. They all add more depth to this world Anderson has created.

    Gustave tells Zero at one point in the film, “When you’re young, it’s all fillet steak but as you get older, you have to move on to the cheaper cuts.” Wes Anderson might be getting older but The Grand Budapest Hotel is definitely a fillet steak.

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