Directed by: Wes Anderson Story by: Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness Screenplay by: Wes Anderson Inspired by the Works of: Stefan Zweig Cinematography by: Robert D. Yeoman Music by: Alexandre Desplat
Premise: Jumping back from the 80's to the 60's then the 30's, a tale unfolds about the Grand Budapest Hotel, it's concierge M. Gustave, and the hotel's newest lobby boy, Zero. When one of the hotel's long time patrons dies, and she's bequeathed a priceless painting to the concierge, he suddenly finds himself accused of murder. (Rated PG-13)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Ralph Fiennes was captivating as the hard working, mature ladies man, and amazing concierge, M. Gustave. Tony Revolori turned out to be a perfect foil for Mr. Fiennes as the soft spoken, yet incredibly brave, Zero. And there were many well known and familiar faces in the rest of the cast, Edward Norton and Jeff Goldblum, but two of the throng.
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: The makers of the film went 'old school' and used stop motion animation to give the film a lot of its quirky feel. The large chase scene was done almost entirely with stop motion animation and looked great. Other special effects used in the film were visual or had to do with presentation. They were all really well done and did much to create a great atmosphere for the film.
3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: The story is told in a very unique way as we start in a small eastern country at a cemetery and a young lady who hangs an old fashioned hotel key off a pedestal with the bust of a famous author. Then we see said author alive in his later years and as he speaks, he leap back in time yet again to the 60's, and we see the Budapest Hotel as it was then. It is here that the mystery begins as author meets the widely known owner of the hotel. In the telling of how the owner obtained the hotel, we then leap back to the late 30's, where the Grand Budapest Hotel was at its peak yet about to begin its slow descent into obscurity.
In many ways the film reminded me of an operatic farce - with things overblown toward the absurd, but never entirely crossing the line. The prison escape sequence is a perfect example.
Watching all the different odd characters interacting was just too much fun. Yet there's also a depth and sadness to the tale as we see the world changing as war boiled up then ran rampant during that time. Even with our own worries, the world beyond moves on, and nothing is ever certain.
4) Locations/Cinematography - Total Thumbs Up: Filmed in eight different locations in Germany, many of them castles, there is plenty to 'feed the eyes'. Many of the rooms and hallways were fabulous. Some of the long shot angles gave many of the hallways an almost supernatural look. There's even a shoot out scene that will make you cringe every time a bullet hits the gorgeous hotel's columns.
Conclusion: "The Grand Budapest Hotel" is a lovingly quirky and quite entertaining film. It pretends to be light, but has a lot of unexpected depth behind it. It was also a lot of fun.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)