Book a Trip to Charming “Grand Budapest Hotel”
Director Wes Anderson isn’t one for clicking with the mainstream. In many cases, his signature style and wit are aimed solely for pleasing limited audiences. Anderson’s latest comedy caper, The Grand Budapest Hotel does however extend the olive branch to the masses a bit further.
The Grand Budapest Hotel opens to a jarring series of events within its first few minutes. Budapest functions within three time periods. In the 1980’s, we’re introduced to Tom Wilkinson. Simply known as “The Author,” he visited the hotel two decades earlier as his younger counterpart, Jude Law. There, he meets the hotel’s owner Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), who in turn tells his story as the hotel lobby boy in the 1930’s.
Once firmly situated in the 1930’s, the caper is a relentless riot of laughs following Zero and his mentor, Gustave (Ralph Fiennes). As the hotel’s concierge, Gustave fancies himself as the beloved face of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Besides living up to hotel’s reputation of top-notch hospitality, Gustave mingles with the patrons, particularly superficial and insecure women. He grows close with one in particular, Madame D (a hardly recognizable Tilda Swinton).
Gustave inherits a priceless painting upon her sudden death, which doesn’t set well with the relatives. Her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) is greatly upset by this and recruits his personal crony (Willem Dafoe) to knock Gustave off. That also puts Zero and everyone at the hotel in jeopardy as well. The inclusion of the murder mystery in the mix is a fine throwback to the noir era.
The Grand Budapest Hotel inherits plenty of the quirky situations from other Anderson films. Still it plays with being an accessible love letter to classic comedy. Gustave and Zero find themselves in countless situations that if written one way could ventured down a dark road. Anderson manages to twist these dangerous showdowns into humorous sequences to chuckle at.
Written by Anderson with such precision and charm, Budapest never misses a beat. Fiennes is undoubtedly the anchor role here, playing up his lovable flamboyant concierge. He wears all his hats with pride and conviction. Whether as a mentor to Zero, a lover to Madame D or adversary to Dmitri, the exchanges are seamlessly entertaining.
Anderson plays to his strengths casting many of his regulars. Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Harvey Kietel and Jason Schwartzman all grace the screen for brief colorful cameos. Even for the little screen time they’re all allotted, it’s a clear sign that they all want to work alongside Anderson again and again. Saoirse Ronan joins the cast as Zero’s book-smart girlfriend, who gets caught up in antics. Hopefully, she’ll be another Anderson regular as well.
The non-stop wit and charm of The Grand Budapest Hotel is edged off with Alexandre Desplat’s finely tuned score. Rooted in Russian orchestral flair, the score solidifies the identity to many of the film’s escape and chase sequences.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a marvelous addition to Anderson’s resume that doesn’t compromise integrity by opening doors to even more audiences.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is the most visually unique experience in a very long time. The film retain much of its quirky charm from theaters, focusing on pink and purple tones throughout. Its 1080p AVC transfer captures the fine details of all the time periods in the film and showcases them in various aspect ratios. Much of the film is shot in 1.37:1 and will switch to 1.85:1 and 2.40:1. There is no need to change the aspect ratio on the player in this instance.
Fox’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5. 1 surround track is layered with much care. The Grand Budapest Hotel isn’t a film that demands a 7.1 surround track, so this will certainly suffice. Dialogue is coherent throughout and Desplat’s score is a delightful listen. This third collaboration between Desplat and Anderson (after Fantastic Mr. Fox and Moonrise Kingdom) is solid once again.
Fox provides an adequate amount of bonus features for this set. Still, it feels like a tease of the inevitable Criterion down the line. Bill Murray Tours the Town features the actor exploring various set locations. There are also three short vignettes totaling around nine minutes, a still gallery and a theatrical trailer. The most detailed featurette is The Making of The Grand Budapest Hotel, which is broken down into four parts, totaling around 20 minutes.
If you missed this little gem known as The Grand Budapest Hotel on the big screen, there’s no reason not to check this one out on home media. The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of few films in early 2014 that will not be forgotten by year’s end.
- Movie: A (10/10)
- Video: A (10/10)
- Audio: A- (9/10)
- Special Features: C+ (6/10)