Boasting opulent old world European sets and meticulously-costumed actors, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" opened in select theatres this week. It is the latest film from director Wes Anderson, who is known for making very offbeat comedies, such as "Fantastic Mr. Fox" and "Rushmore."
"The Grand Budapest Hotel" opens in the hotel itself where a reserved writer (played by Jude Law) has a multi-course meal with one of the few other guests (played by F. Murray Abraham). But his fellow guest's allegiance to the hotel is a long one, and he tells his story of his start at the hotel as a lobby boy named Zero in the early 1930s. During this time, he was mentored by the demanding concierge, M. Gustave (played by Ralph Fiennes). M. Gustave took pleasure in fulfilling all of his guests' needs, from making them the perfect cocktail to providing sexual favors for older women, such as Madame D. (played by Tilda Swinton). When the needy dowager died, she bequeathed her favorite concierge a valuable painting, much to the dismay of her selfish son, Dmitri (played by Adrien Brody), who wants to keep it in the estate. M. Gustave steals the painting. After he does this, Dmitri is determined to track him down.
"The Grand Budapest Hotel" has a very complex story with many characters. Although the hotel itself is home base for the story, the main characters find themselves in numerous settings, such as prisons, mansions, and bakeries. Wes Anderson's impressive screenplay and direction keep the plot moving as the main characters confront increasingly complicated situations.
The performances are excellent. Ralph Fiennes is perfect as M. Gustave, who manages to make his prison uniform look almost as fetching as his concierge ensemble. He is a flawed, but likeable character who, even in the most dire of circumstances, always takes the time to think about what would bring pleasure to the person with whom he is dealing. His human resources skills turn out to be completely transferrable as he handles his fellow prisoners as competently as he does his hotel staff. Another strong performance is by Saorise Ronan, who plays Zero's dedicated girlfriend, who has a birthmark in the shape of Mexico on her face. Edward Norton, who plays a police captain looking for Zero and M. Gustave, is also impressive.
"The Grand Budapest Hotel" is a great choice for fans of Wes Anderson.