The Grand Budapest Hotel is, in many ways, the most Wes Anderson of Wes Anderson films that Wes Anderson has made. Verging dangerously close to self-parody and being completely divisive, sometimes weird and often disconcerting, The Grand Budapest Hotel nevertheless is a charming and enchanting cinematic experience that amuses as much as it potentially confuses.
Taking place simultaneously in three eras (each highlighted by a change in the aspect ratio of the film), The Grand Budapest Hotel is a matryoshka doll of framing narratives, beginning with a now old unnamed writer describing the events that transpired at the eponymous hotel in the fictional Germanic –influenced central European republic of Zubrowka when he visited the now-dilapidated hotel in the 1960s. Befriending the hotel’s aged owner, Zero, over dinner the owner comes to tell the tale of how the Grand Budapest Hotel came into his hands and why it is means so much to him.
What follows is a near two hour journey through the capers and escapades of young Zero (played to perfection by relative newcomer Tony Revolori) and the magnificent Ralph Fiennes as Monsieur Gustave H., the concierge of the decadent and grandiose hotel in the 1930s. Encompassing the befriending of a lovely widow, the problem of inheritance and the murderous and vicious nature of the widow’s family, The Grand Budapest Hotel introduces a cavalcade of big name actors into a number of minor roles, but none of them really have the power to scene-steal from the magnificent Fiennes and Revolori. The large number of characters can at times seem like the cinematic equivalent of non-sequiturs, but there is enough of a drive and emotional nuance in the story to keep you fully on board in Anderson’s wacky world.