Going into a movie with high expectations is dangerous. Usually, that’s because you don’t want to get your hopes up; you don’t want to dream about the story and your favorite characters only for both to have as much depth as a new Lindsay Lohan single. One shouldn’t keep their imagination from running wild before watching Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. Whatever the mind can dream up, The Grand Budapest Hotel can exceed it.
The Grand Budapest Hotel isn’t a movie. No, it’s an experience. It’s something you have to shut your smartphone off and slowly recline into. A younger writer takes you into the story. He’s been out there, in the world living, traveling. His book is part story, part social commentary. During his earlier career he met a man in an old hotel. Watchers don’t follow his life entirely, instead they follow along as Zero Mustafa (played by F. Murray Abraham), who was once a lobby boy in the Grand Budapest Hotel, finds his one great love and his best friend.
Zero is the focal point of the overarching story, but it is his best friend the Grand Budapest’s head, Gustav H. (played by Ralph Fiennes) that truly shines. Fiennes’ character is a womanizer. Worse, he’s a womanizer who seems to enjoy “befriending” old women. When one dies and leaves him a painting the movie turns into sort of murder mystery and buddy cop drama.
A mysterious death and buddy cop antics alone wouldn’t be enough to carry this film, but as I said The Grand Budapest Hotel is an experience. You forget about the world we live in because the film’s costumes are dead on. You leave everything you know behind because every joke, every play on reality is well stylized and executed. You don’t just root for these characters because you want the film to end well, you root for them because you want to see what joke, what witty pun the film’s writers we throw at them next. Fiennes’ comedic timing in this film is absolutely dead on.
There’s a scene in the film when Zero is about to be taken hostage by Nazis-like SS troopers. Fiennes’ turns to Zero and says that a dead women was wonderful in the sack. When Zero declares that she was much too old Fiennes simply replies, “I’ve had older.” It’s a wonderful exchange in the film and pretty indicative of most of the jokes the two make too. That Fiennes’ delivery is dead on and that the film is stocked with celebrity cameos doesn’t hurt either.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is available for rent now in the Xbox Video Store. Renting the film costs just $4.99 in standard definition.