Director Wes Anderson has an extraordinary talent most directors don’t seem to have. He is able to captivate his audience by transporting them into a world of clever quirkiness.
Anderson’s latest film, “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” this time transforms the theater into a luxurious hotel found on top of the jagged mountains of a fictional Eastern-European country called Zubrowka.
It’s 1932, and the Grand Budapest is an oasis of magnificence. Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) is the legendary concierge of the hotel with exceptional but strict leadership skills. When Gustave is not serving the hotel’s wealthy patrons or managing its staff, he’s attending to the needs of the elderly female clients with his “exceptional service.”
When one of those clients, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), dies suddenly, Gustave and his lobby boy, Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori), travel to the funeral to pay their condolences. While at the funeral, the dame’s will is read, and it is discovered that she left one of her most prized possessions to Gustave — a valuable painting. Because this piece of art is given to someone the family has never seen, Inspector Henckels (Edward Norton) and the greedy family, led by the repulsive Dmitri (Adrien Brody), suspect the mysterious concierge murdered the woman.
This accusation forms not only a partnership between Gustave and Moustafa, but also a friendship as they try to prove his innocence. The duo embark on a series of adventures, including a chase between cat and mouse with Dmitri’s hitman (Willem Dafoe), a prison escape with four criminals led by the dangerous Ludwig (Harvey Keitel), and an army invading Zubrowka.
Fiennes — who is most known for his serious roles, such as the tragic count in “The English Patient,” a Nazi in “Schindler’s List” and, of course, Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series — is a natural when it comes to playing the role of a classy ladies’ man and perfectionist. Fiennes’ performance is impeccable, with several laugh-out-loud moments that will leave the audience wanting more Monsieur Gustave H. at the end of the film. Who knew Voldemort could be so funny?
Another stunning performance is from newcomer actor Tony Revolori. Revolori’s character, Zero Moustafa, observes Gustave and desires to become just like him. He follows the footsteps of his mentor just as Robin does with Batman, and soon becomes a flawless sidekick.
The true star of the film, however, happens to be its own director, Wes Anderson. Anderson, who has been nominated for three Academy Awards for the films “The Royal Tenenbaums,” “Fantastic Mr. Fox” and “Moonrise Kingdom,” once again makes his audience feel as if they’re turning the pages of the greatest pop-up book ever written. With impressive cinematography, backgrounds and costumes, the audience feels as if it has jumped in and become guests in a luxurious hotel hidden within the mountaintops of fictitious Zubrowka.
Not only does Anderson capture the eyes of the audience with his films, but also the soul. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was inspired by pre-war Austrian novelist Stefan Zweig, which helps the audience connect to the significance of pre-World War II Europe. The film is true to the period and provides a sense of what many Europeans lost when the Nazis invaded.
Of course, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” will deliver to all Wes Anderson fans, with its distinctive visual and narrative style, but it’s also a film about friendship and self-worth that no one will want to miss.