Quirk to the max
I won’t lie, I have a love – hate relationship with Wed Anderson. On one hand, I love Rushmore and Fantastic Mr. Fox, on the other I’m turned off and throughly detest The Life Aquatic and Moonrise Kingdom and whenever he starts making quirky ass characters so far removed from reality that it makes me long to watch a documentary. With that said, I’ll happily admit I was charmed by his latest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Set as a story within a story within a story (it makes sense when you see it), the film follows Raph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave H, a suave, philandering, and downright charming concierge of the Grand Budapest Hotel and his protege and bell hop, Zero (played by a newcomer named Tony Revolori, who I’ll get to later). The film tells of their adventure in clearing Gustave ‘ s name in the murder of his 84 year old mistress (Gustave likes them blonde, rich, and old). Along the way we see the likes of Edward Norton, Wilhelm Dafoe, Adrian Brody, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson. ..you get the idea, it’s Anderson’s buddies.
The simple setup leads to a wonderful little dark comedy that borders cartoonish and sweet at the same time. The writing is more solid than in any other Anderson film I have seen. Partly because the characters seem vaguely human, and they do their best to charm the hell out of you. Fiennes is at his best here, so much so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor or at the very least he makes the short list. Revolori as Zero brings that quiet yet spontaneous hero Anderson is so fond of, but it’s much more subdued here than his other works. Plus his chemistry with Fiennes is both believable and magical the way a student – mentor relationship should. Honestly couldn’t find a whole lot to criticize besides the length and the unnecessary convoluted and beginning. Once it starts, the laughs keep coming and you remain emotionally invested in this fun well told tale. Even if you don’t catch it in theaters, it’s highly recommended as a rental, a pleasant two hours you’ll enjoy to the end.