Movie Brief

'Budapest' is Grand

A quickie review of Wes Anderon's latest, full review to follow

Grand Budapest Hotel capsule movie review
Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori in The Grand Budapest Hotel
Photo: Fox Searchlight

I just got back from seeing Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel and I'm going to tap out a full review next week, but I wanted to share a few quick thoughts as it's a definite contender for best of 2014.

The best way to describe it is as something of an Agatha Christie story by way of Wes Anderson. It's got all the familiar quirks of an Anderson feature and a bevy of interesting characters with a note just before the credits roll telling us the story was inspired by the 1930s stories and memoirs of Viennese writer Stefan Zweig.

The story is told as one giant flashback by F. Murray Abraham as the elder Zero Moustafa, whom we see through most of the story as his younger self, played by Tony Revolori. Zero is the new lobby boy at the legendary European hotel, the Grand Budapest, where Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes) serves as concierge. The film tells of how the Grand Budapest came to be owned by Zero all these years later with a tale of murder and romance at its core.

The visual style is as you'd expect and the miniature designs is wonderful, brought to life through wonderful lighting and production design, and Anderson plays with the film's aspect ratio as he bounces back and forth in time with the story.

Performances from the leads are spot on, Tilda Swinton is unrecognizable and Harvey Keitel and Willem Dafoe bring a lot to the table. Oh, and Alexandre Desplat's score is absolutely perfect, the theme of which runs through the entire film and walks a perfect line of serious and whimsical. Loved it.

As I said, I'll have an official review later (probably repeating myself more than once), for now here's a listen to Desplat's score and the film's trailer.

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  • Mattenroe

    Just got back myself. Easily Anderson's best.

    • Sean Cordy

      His absolute best? What did you think was his best prior to seeing this?

      • Mattenroe

        The Royal Tenenbaums!

        • SmartFilm

          Personally I think it's far from his best, but very solid.

    • Adriano Ferreira

      I thought it was his best film since Tenenbaums. It's hilarious and tender.

  • burlmouse

    im excited to see this, but personally I feel like the Darjeeling limited is his best work. though its hard to pick a wes Anderson film that im not in love with.

  • Corbin

    I can't wait to see this.

  • GregDinskisk

    Glad you seem to like it so much!! Very excited for this one!

  • andyluvsfilms

    I thought the film was good but really nothing special, my honest interpretation is that the director tries to out-Wes his previous efforts, especially now his style has become more widely known. It's difficult to be too negative though as you can tell a lot of love and devotion has been put into it. I enjoyed the camera work and there's nothing wrong with the performances but it felt like a lesser piece of work, i giggled a couple times but that was many thanks to Willem Dafoe's character.
    I am very interested in other peoples opinion but i suspect like with Moonrise i will be in the minority.
    For the record i love Tenenbaums, Darjeeling, Aquatic and Fox but his last two(and Bottle Rocket) really didn't do it for me. I don't remember much about Rushmore as watched it many moons ago.

    • Andres Rompapas

      I'm part of that minority too, my friend. Moonrise didn't do anything for me. The Royal Tenembaums and Fox are my faves. I'm hoping Budapest will do it for me, It has a good premise.

    • Fox

      "my honest interpretation is that the director tries to out-Wes his previous efforts"

      This sounds like good news to me. I find the more Wes-y it is, the better. In fact, I think that any movie that incorporates it's directors style to a large degree is a good one.

      • Fox

        Although I won't say I'm not biased. I love Anderson. This and A Most Violent Year are my two most anticipated movies of the year.

      • andyluvsfilms

        Goldblum and Norton play it almost completely straight as does Murray and Owen Wilson who are only in the film for a couple of scenes, the film would have been so much better had the script been better suited to its actors.

    • SmartFilm

      Yes exactly! He's almost becoming a mockery of Wes Anderson. I enjoy the film but it totally lacks the emotional honesty of his pre-Fox efforts. Personally, I think he's lost the intellectual intensity he had going in Rushmore, Tenanbaums and (I know I'm in the minority here) Darjeeling. Nevertheless, Fiennes is great and is a perfect vessel for Andersonisms.

      • andyluvsfilms

        Fiennes is really good as is Revolori who plays Zero, nothing wrong with Adrian Brody either. Oh and i love Darjeeling too apart from the bit where they try to save the drowning children, strange tonal shift there.

  • Chris138

    Wes Anderson is a bit of a hit or miss for me (the latter more often than the former) with the only movies I've really enjoyed being Bottle Rocket and The Darjeeling Limited. But, since I've seen so many great reviews for Budapest even from people who don't particularly care for his work overall (Leonard Maltin, Owen Gleiberman and Rex Reed among them) I'm hoping that I enjoy this as much as the critics and trailer are leading me to think I will. Can't wait to see it next week!

  • Titus_Pullo

    Really don't get the Wes Anderson love, but to each their own......

  • Jarret

    Really looking forward to seeing this.