Who knew that Wes Anderson had it in him? The ‘it’ being the ability to charm with an exotic, mysterious, strange, outlandish adventure encased in an embroidered, beaded silk cinematic purse named The Grand Budapest Hotel. The set is like a miniature city, and it’s as if Anderson shrunk the audience so we can experience the baubles and trinkets of grand old Europe, especially, the expanse of the countryside and all of its majesty. Frame-by-frame, Anderson delights the senses with visually
stunning settings. The film ricochets through time and place to tell the story of M. Gustave, played by Ralph Fiennes, the exact, fun-loving, sensational proprietor of The Grand Budapest Hotel. Gustave is a man ahead of his time, whom the narrator informs us is “a glimmer of civilization in the barbaric slaughterhouse we know as humanity.” That “glimmer” avails himself of rich and wealthy female patrons, who are smitten with his joie de vivre. An elderly Madame D, played by an unrecognizable Tilda Swinton (kudos to makeup designers) bequeaths to Gustave a valuable painting, and thus begins family squabbles, murder, mayhem, intrigue, and love. Andersen even treats us to a daring prison escape led by Ludwig, played by a bald Harvey Keitel.
The story begins in 1985 in Lutz, a fictional town in Eastern Europe. An aging author, played by Tom Wilkerson, writes of his journey to the hotel, and through flashbacks we bounce to 1968, and the author recalls his younger self, played by Jude Law, on a stay at the hotel. Over dinner, the author learns of M. Gustave by listening to the story of the hotel’s history and its proprietor from Mr. Mustafa, played by F. Murray Abraham. From that dinner table, Anderson ricochets to 1930, to a cold, dark, and damp Central Europe in between two world wars. Anderson portrays this time and space well as he captures via Gustave, a national tension and disquietude, a kind of controlled panic or a hunger to gorge on life because the joie de vivre could be decimated at a moment’s notice.
We expect … how shall I say this … we expect divine performances by Swinton, Fiennes, Keitel, Abraham, and Law — that’s a given, really. But Tony Revolori pushes through with a fine performance as Zero, the young M. Mustafa as the Lobby Boy. In the end, it is he who inherits the painting as well as the Grand Budapest Hotel and all of its grand history.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a must see; you will enjoy every fantastical moment!
The Grand Budapest Hotel plays through April 24 at the Ross Media Arts Center in Lincoln.
Also at The Ross Elaine Stritch, Shoot Me, a documentary homage to the Broadway legend, who is still going at 80 years old, plays through April 3.
Listen to the review on NET Nebraska @ 20:55 min
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