The Big Screen

The Big Screen: The Grand Budapest Hotel

July 18, 2014 

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” was released in late March to a limited opening and slipped under the radar of most audiences.

It is ranked No. 3 according to Rotten Tomato’s evaluation of movies in 2014. “Boyhood” and “Life Itself” take the top positions.

The movie begins in 1985 with the aged Author (Tom Wilkinson) recounting how he came to write “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” We flash back to August 1968 to the pre-war Republic of Zubrowka, a European alpine state. The young Author (Jude Law) has sought out the infamous and remote mountainside hotel to get over a bout of writer’s block. It is there he meets Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), the owner of the hotel, a multi-millionaire who prefers to sleep in servants quarters instead of the penthouse.

The real story of Mr. Moustafa begins in 1932, when he was known as Zero (Tony Revolori) and was the lobby boy and personal assistant to Monsieur Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes), the hotel’s concierge, who has managed to keep the hotel bustling by “entertaining” wealthy, old women.

One of the women, Madame D (an excellent, albeit brief Tilda Swinton), is particularly smitten. Her love proves to be a problem when she is found dead under mysterious circumstances. Accusations of murder are directed at Gustave H, who is quickly ushered to jail while Madame D’s suspicious son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) and his henchman Jopling (Willem Dafoe) get rid of anyone who stands in the way of a handsome inheritance.

Wes Anderson continues to mature with every film he makes. “Budapest” is every bit as extravagant as the hotel itself: rich characters, fabulous sets, charming dialogue, and a fine mix of comedy, murder mystery and wartime drama. A shame that it wasn’t originally released to a larger audience, but it is a must-see now that it is available for home viewing.

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