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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Sunday, Mar. 30, 2014 3 years ago

FILM REVIEW: 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'


"The Grand Budapest Hotel" is a beyond-clever adult fairytale that exceeds all expectations. Director Wes Anderson, known for creating quirky, colorful characters, pulls out all the stops in this incredibly wonderful gigglefest.

The story plays out in one huge flashback told by Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) to a young author (Jude Law) over dinner in The Grand Budapest Hotel. It's 1968, and the hotel has seen better days. Zero, now a millionaire and owner of the property, started out as a mere lobby boy there in 1932. At that time, the hotel was run by the scandalous and charming concierge, Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes at his very best). He took the young Zero (the divine Tony Revolori) under his tutelage, which greatly pleased the boy.

Gustave has a command of the English language that is heavily peppered with obscenities. He also has the gift of seducing rich, elderly clientele, providing both parties involved great pleasure. But Gustave's life is turned upside-down when one of his paramours, Madame D. (an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton) is found murdered. Considered a suspect, Gustave must abandon his beloved hotel and is forced to embark upon a treacherous journey fraught with greedy, vicious thugs.

Accompanied by his devoted Zero, Gustave encounters the evil son (Adrien Brody), mysterious butler (Mathieu Amalric), a slick, feline-loving executor (Jeff Goldblum), a bulldog-toothed henchman (Willem Dafoe) and a hilariously tatooed prisoner (Harvey Keitel) ... just for starters. (There are cameos galore in the film).

Anderson takes us on a capricious and captivating journey so visually stunning that it requires a second viewing. His camerawork is dedicated to the precision of movement and yet doesn't feel at all choreographed. The script is a perfect blending of wry, caustic and silly humor. A cat gets thrown out of a window and splats onto the concrete below. As you wince, you can't help stifling a laugh.

Anderson possesses the unique ability to take his audience someplace dark and suddenly elevate the experience to a humorous level. He employs it throughout "The Grand Budapest Hotel" so precisely that we become entranced by his methodology. Simply put, you'll love this movie.

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