Film Review: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

****OUT OF 4

TheGrandBudapestHotelPosterDirector and auteur Wes Anderson, 44, is the Woody Allen of the millennial generation. His oeuvre includes eight features including such memorable and idiosyncratic works as  “Bottle Rocket”, “Rushmore”, “Fantastic Mr. Fox”, 2012’s “Moonrise Kingdom” and now “The Grand Budapest Hotel”-fittingly his most distinctive film to date garnering raves at the 2014 Berlin Film Festival. It is set in a fictional country somewhere in Central Europe just about the time that 1930s fascism became fashionable.

It stars a wonderful Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave H, the hotel’s concierge who believes that good manners are the cornerstone of civilization and Tony Revolori as his young protégé. Anderson surrounds Gustave with a lively bunch of lovers, liars and clowns working with many of his ensemble performers from prior films such as Owen Wilson, Edward Norton, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, and newcomers Jude Law and Saoirse Ronan.

The film spins like a Marx Brothers caper, complete with a stolen painting and a prison escape with the aid of a tattooed Harvey Keitel. There is also a ski chase, and a plethora of locations including the Bad Schandau elevator. I t is a lively mix of witty repartee and absurdities. Photographed with impeccable style by Robert Yeoman and a luscious score by the great Alexandre Desplat the film with carry you away to this magical land of laughter and existential bliss.

A note about Anderson’s inspiration for this project belongs to Stefan Zweig, a genteel Austrian-Jewish writer who escaped the Nazis only to commit suicide after realizing that the beauty of pre-World War II would never return. Besides Zweig, who Anderson dedicates the film, one must note the influence of the great Ernst Lubitsch.

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