Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Toni Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Mathieu Amalric, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Jude Law, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Jason Schwartzman, Lea Seydoux, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson
RunTime: 1 hr 40 mins
Rating: M18 (Sexual Scene and Some Nudity)
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: http://www.grandbudapesthotel.com
Opening Day: 20 March 2014
Synopsis: 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.
This reviewer remembers that day in 2001 clearly – he had initiated a movie outing with his army mates, and the selected film was Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. Nope, that didn’t go down too well with the other five guys very well at all. The star power of big names like Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson couldn’t salvage the situation. Not even the earworm Hey Jude could make this columnist’s friends feel engaged with the movie. On the other hand, he found himself loving every other work made by Anderson.
The 44 year old filmmaker’s latest film is no exception. It has all the signature visual and narrative style – and on top of it, a reflective plot which will have you pinning for life’s more humane moments. The comedy drama film written by Andersoninspired by the writings of Stefan Zweig tells the story of a concierge who teams up with his bell boy to prove his innocence after he is framed for murder. The duo embarks on an adventure in the fictional Republicof Zubrowska, a European state.
If you have been awed by the whimsical storytelling approach Anderson’s previous works like The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), The Darjeeling Limited (2007) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012), you would not want to miss this trip to the Grand Budapest Hotel. This is, after all, from the quirky mind of the man who turned Roald Dahl’s children’s tale Fantastic Mr Fox into an idiosyncratic animated film. Who would have thought George Clooney and Meryl Streep would make such a lovely pair of foxes?
Here, it’s another star studded affair. Ralph Fiennes headlines the flick with his spot on comedic portrayal of M Gustave, our protagonist who has charmed his guests in the most delightfully charismatic ways you can imagine. At the end of the film, you’ll understand why we desperately need someone like M Gustave in our lives – because of the simple yet poignant human touch he brings. Elsewhere, Adrien Brody is amusingly entertaining as the antagonist, Willem Dafoe is a joy to watch as a psychotic aide, Jeff Goldblum is slimy fun as a good for nothing attorney, Edward Norton switches on his fun mode to play a police inspector, while Harvey Keitel shows you what he’s got by playing a topless hardened convict.
The list doesn’t end there: Mathieu Amalric is an important eye witness, Jude Law is a writer, F Murray Abraham is a world weary concierge, Lea Seydoux is a housemaid, and Tilda Swinton (in unrecognisable makeup) is a rich and unhappy old woman. Tony Revolori and Saoirse Ronan play a lovely young couple, and other big names like Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Bob Balaban and Tom Wilkinson have cameo roles. Phew, did we miss out anyone?
The visual style is unmistakably Anderson’s. Do a Google check and you’d find countless articles penning the academic symbolism of the Oscar nominated writer’s unique framing. While we won’t bore you with scholastic blabber, do watch out for the change in aspect ratio in this film, and you can’t help but be awed by how innovatively clever Andersonis. This, and the intelligent use of Robert Yeoman’s cinematography to have you keeping your eyes on screen every single moment. Alexandre Desplat’s apt scoring also complements the film’s storytelling.
There is both style and substance in this film, and it is a piece of work you’d want to watch again to appreciate on various levels.
(Like Wes Anderson’s previous works, this is a stylishly affecting piece of work that you’d love to bits)
Review by John Li