Movie Reviews & Interviews from Washington

‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ Review: Starring Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori & Saoirse Ronan

Is there a more picturesque and articulate director working today than Wes Anderson? Wes Anderson’s movies always bring me joy, from the interesting characters he creates to the visionary cinematography and filmography he uses to make the movie. 2012’s Moonrise Kingdom was not only one of the best films of that year but the most romantic and sweetest film Anderson has ever made. The eclectic group of characters he created in The Royal Tenenbaums was pure genius and the lovely underwater landscapes in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou were just as memorable.

Anderson tends to focus on one or two characters throughout his stories and how their relationships with each other or their relationships with other people help them grow. In the case of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson focuses on the head concierge, played incredibly by Ralph Fiennes, and his friendship with the lobby boy, played by newcomer Tony Revolori.

Set in the fictional European nation of Zubrowska, The Grand Budapest Hotel follows the story of famed concierge Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and his most loyal friend and lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori), as they run one of the most distinguished hotels in Europe.

This is a Wes Anderson film after all, so the film is packed with A-list talent, which includes Saiorse Ronan, Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Owen Wilson, Jason Schwartzman, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Lea Seydoux, Jude Law and F Murray Abraham among others.

In his other films, like The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore, the supporting characters are fleshed out much more, but in Budapest, the side characters are strictly used just to move Gustave’s story forward. This could be the one slight fault of the film, but Fiennes’ performance is enjoyable enough that the underdeveloped characters may not throw some audiences.

The film begins in present day, then goes back to 1985, then back to 1968, back to 1932, then back to 1968 and ends in the present. Wes Anderson and his trusted cinematographer Robert Yeoman filmed the time periods using different aspect ratios (1.37, 1.85 and 2.35:1) to inform the viewer what time period they are in. Every single shot of an Anderson film looks like it could appear in an artistic museum, it looks so picturesque. The use of his signature color yellow looks especially wonderful in the hotel, as well as the vibrant pinks, reds and purples.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is thought provoking, stylish, comedic and melancholy all at the same time. It’s practically impossible to see everything and grasp all of Anderson’s fine touches in its initial viewing. Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori have excellent chemistry as our two best friends and Anderson’s astute visuals continue to amaze.

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