What a joy! It's only March, but The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of the most wholesome, funniest, and overall best movies of the year, a lock for my top ten. The film follows the escapades of the most valued concierge working at the Grand Budapest Hotel (the place, not the movie,), M. Gustave H., played in sublime fashion by the usually dramatic Ralph Finnes. In the process of training new lobby boy Zero, he is framed for murdering the extremely old and extremely wealthy Madame D., and goes on the run.
This is director Wes Anderson's eighth film, and easily his best. He is regarded for his instantly recognizable style, a double-edged sword. He has the acclaim of cinephiles and hipsters around the world, but has the increased potential of retracing his own footsteps, doing what he has done in the past. Based on the trailer, it appeared Wes would rehash the subplot of kids on the run, a la Moonrise Kingdom. I say with great relief that his is Anderson's most original film to date, a murder-mystery with his largest cast and most gratuitous violence. There is a prison break scene in the movie that had me trembling in my seat, out of utter hilarity and superb suspense. From 1996 to now, Wes Anderson has evolved so much as a director, one that tried to be great by being unconventional, but is now great. It's utterly unique, a joy to watch.
Now that 'kids on the run' has been mentioned, it goes to show how dense of a plot the movie has. There are many stars in the movie, enough to make a new constellation, and many of them are underutilized, like the French maid Clotilde, played by Lea Seydoux, or the Author, played by Tom Wilkinson. It sounds horrible for a director to have so many people with unequal representation, but when you've got Ralph Finnes doing offbeat comedy, who needs anything else? I sure didn't.
Newcomer Tony Revolori is Zero, and he holds his own admirably. The film gives Adrien Brody his best part in a long time as Madame D.'s profane and spoiled descendant, and Jeff Goldblum is impossible funny as the oddly-speaking hotel curator. I can recycle sentences all day talking about how fun and great and perfect the movie is, but instead you have to see it for yourself. It's as sweet as a Mendl's pastry and as masterful as the painting 'Boy with Apple'.
Note: This is Wes Anderson's most emotional movie to date. It came as a surprise to have this goofy action comedy tug on the heartstrings, utilizing sentimentality in the best way possible. It's amazing that this movie was not released last year, for it would have been number three on my top ten and a definite Best Picture nominee. I hope there's Oscar glory for Wes and company.