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SXSW '14 Review: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

The Grand Budapest Hotel


Inspiration has no limits. For Wes Anderson, like a spurred inventor, he bounds beyond basics to a new creative realm in his latest, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel.’ A special event at the SXSW Film Festival this March, the film shows why this Texas native director will never go stale.

Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori in 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'
© 2014 - Fox Searchlight Pictures

‘The Anderson Realm’ it should be called; his distinctness in a colorful image, quick pace, and comedy marks a method that can compete only with itself, as his films just keep improving. Not to mention his unforgettable returning cast members, obvious in ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ who have culminated essential relationships with Anderson. These actors add to his empire just as much as the stories themselves. Including the likes of Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Fisher Stevens, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Saoirse Ronan, and F. Murray Abraham, part of the film’s excitement comes from wondering who will pop up next.

As central characters however we find, in flashback, M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes excelling here) and Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) go from a working lobby boy/concierge duo to adventurers in the days of Gustave’s glorious European hotel. Older lover to Gustave, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton), dies mysteriously and leaves a priceless piece of art to Gustave. Madame’s son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) is outraged by the injustice and Gustave decides to take matters into his own hands, with the help of Zero, that starts them on a run from the forces against them and towards a friendship that changes them.

European accents rarely in place that honestly don’t matter in this fan base, the performances and story fit amongst the striking randomness and restlessness of Anderson’s creative vault. Similar in mood and taste to ‘The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou’ and ‘Moonrise Kingdom,’ ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is more vivacious with youthful energy and plays like the bedtime story of a genius, chock full of tricks. A bit actually filmed on location in Germany, with inspiration for the story drawn from the works of Stefan Zweig, and Anderson’s use of hotel and mechanical miniatures amongst snowy backdrops and luxurious hotel rooms; it puts you in a vision that feels complete. The only dissatisfaction is that the very ending lacks the same energy, falling more sadly and matter-of-factly than expected.

Like a metronome, quick shifts in action and dialogue are constant and attention- sustaining. From Gustave, Dmitri, and Zero in a quick jab to a cat thrown from a window, even Gustave pummeling a fellow inmate he claims to have befriended and a high-speed toboggan chase, ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ is sense and nonsense wrapped in one. It’s a fanatically magical experience you don’t get enough from the movies and hovering as Anderson’s best to date.