The Grand Budapest Hotel

9 Overall Score
Performances: 10/10
Design: 10/10
Plot: 9/10

Terribly funny, captivating and rich.

Not a film for the strict realists.

The first time I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel it felt to me as if I was watching the work of a peculiar sort of archaeologist. It was as though a layer deep in the crust of life, having lain untouched for a very long time, was being brought to the surface again for me to see. Drawing it from the depths, past layers of practicality, efficiency, and rationality — so widely accepted as patent qualities of our ‘real world’ — the archaeologist [here, Anderson] suddenly presets us [here, the audience and myself] with the oft-forgotten layer of ‘dream’. For just as certainly as we are law-writers, cure-finders, tech-developers, and problem-solvers, we must not forget another truth of which the famed chocolatier, Willy Wonka reminded us, “We are the music-makers; we are the dreamers of dreams.” The reward of the dream awaits him that can suspend his disbelief and see his reality for what it truly is: one among many, comprised of a great many pieces.

In the case of The Grand Budapest Hotel, the dream is one that stretches back across the years. At the film’s open, it is a novel read by a young girl at the grave of her favorite author. This aged Author [Tom Wilkinson] alleges to have had the story accounted to him by the Hotel Budapest’s solitary proprietor, Mr. Zero Moustafa [played by F. Murray Abraham] during a trip to the once great establishment in 1968. We jump backward once more as Mr. Moustafa tells the Young Writer [Jude Law] that in order to explain how he had come to acquire The Budapest, he would have to begin with the hotel’s original concierge, the legendary MonsieurGustave H. [Ralph Fiennes].

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The story of Gustave H. and the then-young Zero [Tony Revolori] is one of honor, bravery, and perhaps most of all, of beauty. Indeed Mr. Anderson is, in this critic’s opinion, generally concerned with the qualities of the aesthetic [that is: concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty.] in his productions. However, the beauty in which Mr. Anderson seems most interested is not the popular concept of beauty, the oversexed quality to which we attribute the femme fatal or the action hero, but the unaffected, unapologetic, and often odd variety that grows wild in all of us and issues from the source of our honest uniqueness. The Grand Budapest Hotel is no exception; in fact, if I were to judge it based solely on the philosophy and pursuits of its main character, Mr. Gustave H., I would say it is Mr. Anderson’s most thorough and explicit discussion of beauty to date. While this dream contains many stories — of murder and mystery, love and loss, justice and injustice — the one that shines most brightly is that of a man fighting for beauty in a world which daily grows less and less concerned with it.

Certainly, I cannot complete a proper review of The Grand Budapest Hotel without a discussion of the technical proficiency of its performers and creative team. The film boasts wonderful performances from a star-studded cast, its dreamlike quality somehow advanced by the choice that the actors use their natural voices rather than playing a dialect native to the film’s setting [the fictional Republic of Zubrowka] as is typically done. It is served further by Mr. Anderson’s trademark cinematographic style, which lovingly captures an array of beautifully crafted sets and landscapes that I can neither fully comprehend nor forget. Clearly, I have little to say in the negative of The Grand Budapest Hotel. I suppose that job will be left to the critic that fails to find the same enjoyment I have, if such a critic can be found. Oh, and one more thing, The Grand Budapest Hotel is funny as hell. It is surely to be a great enjoyment for fellow cinephiles and casual movie-goers alike!

This review was written by guest writer Patrick Hurlburt.

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