By Megan Bianco
One of the most aesthetically recognizable filmmakers of our time, Wes Anderson, has his own niche of frequent collaborators, colorful set decorations and retro soundtracks. The signature look had subtle beginnings with Bottle Rocket (1994) and Rushmore (1998) to the ensemble indies like The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), and The Life Aquatic (2004), to the family dramedies of Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012). Now his latest feature, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is his grandest, most extravagant, artistic, star-studded film to date. For those in San Diego wondering where they can find 2014’s first masterpiece on DVD or Blu-ray, look no further.
In 1932 Hungary, a teenage boy called Zero (Tony Revolori) becomes the new lobby boy of the Grand Budapest Hotel and sees firsthand how concierge M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) runs the place. Only a month into the job, and Zero is dragged into Gustave’s involvement with the death of Gustave’s older lover, Mrs. Desgoffe-und-Taxis, AKA, Madame D. (Tilda Swinton). The two are then on the run from her greedy son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) and Dmitri’s hired assassin (Willem Dafoe) when it’s discovered Gustave is bequeathed some of the belongs in the madame’s will.
Saoirse Ronan plays Zero’s love interest, as well as a baker with a gift for hiding things in her pastries. Jude Law, F. Murray Abraham and Tom Wilkinson narrate Gustave and Zero’s tale. Edward Norton is an inspector following the duo, while Léa Seydoux is a sneaky French maid. Jeff Golblum is the attorney handling Madame D’s will, and Anderson regulars Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel, Owen Wilson and Bob Balaban appear throughout this fine mess of fun extravagance.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a film that is surprisingly charming and clever, yet also adult-oriented in its art and narrative. After two successful efforts at expanding his themes to younger audiences with Mr. Fox and Moonrise, Anderson continues to use a teen protagonist, but with more mature elements that are still light and sweet in presentation. The film shows a director who is now completely at home in his craft and medium, yet manages to continue attracting new audiences for his screen journeys.
Though the cast may seem crowded, Fiennes and Revolori shine brightest in this grand affair. Fiennes, after two decades of acclaimed acting on stage and screen — most famously with Schindler’s List (1993), Quiz Show (1994) and The English Patient (1996) — expands his career even more with a rare comedy role that is spot-on with delight from start to finish as a flamboyant professional without being annoyingly hammy. Revolori, an unknown newcomer from Anaheim, CA, is a natural on screen, but maintains a modesty and subtlety that meshes well opposite Fiennes. Budapest Hotel has already become one of the most successful independent films of 2014 critically and financially, and deservedly so.
Megan Bianco is a Southern California-based movie reviewer and content writer with a degree from California State University Northridge.
>> Subscribe to Times of San Diego’s free daily email newsletter! Click hereFollow Us: