Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Grand Budapest Hotel – A Visual Treat From Director Wes Anderson

By Steve D. Stones

This delightful film may be Ralph Fiennes’ finest performance since Schindler’s List.  In fact, all the actors involved give an excellent performance. Some big name stars include Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Willem Dafoe, Harvey Keitel, Edward Norton and Owen Wilson. Director Wes Anderson gives the viewer an eye candy treat with richly colored, visually ornate European environments.

The Grand Budapest Hotel follows the 1932 adventures of the liberally perfumed Gustave H - a concierge - played by Fiennes, and his lobby boy – Zero Moustafa, played by Tony Revolori.  A much older Moustafa tells his story thirty-six years later in 1968 to a young writer while dinning in the hotel.

Gustave attends the reading of a will and inherits a Renaissance painting entitled “Boy With Apple” from a deceased widow and owner of the Grand Budapest Hotel – Madame D. The Madame is one of many lovers of Gustave. Her son Dimitri refuses to give the painting to Gustave, so he steals it from the estate and replaces it with an erotic painting by Egon Schiele. Gustave cherishes the painting because Madame D felt the boy in the painting reminded her of him.

After the reading of the will, Gustave is accused by the military police of murdering Madame D. He states his innocence to the police, but flees the hotel in a strange yet hilarious scene. He is caught and incarcerated. Some of his jail mates plan a break out. The group manages to escape through a laundry chute.

Meanwhile, Dimitri employs Jopling - played by Willem Dafoe, to murder Deputy Kovacs – the executor of Madame D’s estate. Kovacs’ body is found in a museum coffin with four fingers missing. Jopling also murders Serge X – the Hotel butler, and his sister.

Zero’s girlfriend Agatha goes to the hotel to retrieve the “Boy With Apple” painting. Dimitri chases after her, and a gun battle breaks out on the top floor of the hotel. This is one of the funniest scenes in the film because no one seems to be able to wound anyone, and the gun firing occasionally ceases as the characters argue, point fingers and shout at each other.

A second will is found attached to the back of the painting. The will leaves Madame D’s entire estate to Gustave, which includes the Grand Budapest Hotel. He is cleared of her murder. Zero is appointed Gustave’s successor, and marries Agatha.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is full of clever, hilarious dialogue. In one particular scene, Gustave says to Zero after the military police beat them onboard a train - “you see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.

Indeed that’s what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant . . . oh, f*ck it!” At the reading of Madame D’s will, Dimitri accuses Gustave of having sex with his mother. Gustave’s response is: “I go to bed with all my friends.”

Don’t miss The Grand Budapest Hotel. The film is a well-crafted, cinematic masterpiece. Happy viewing.

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