The Grand Budapest Hotel Review

By Connor Fak

It is not often that major studios push overtly artistic films into the limelight (not in April anyway) and Wes Anderson’s films are so reputable that I’d been eagerly awaiting to see The Grand Budapest Hotel for almost a year. While this latest release is no Fantastic Mr. Fox, it is the most Wes Anderson-like film that Wes Anderson has made yet. It is certainly the most successful, having grossed over $100 million.

     Foremostly, despite the candy colors and cartoonish personalities, The Grand Budapest Hotel is an R-rated film. While the trailers all seemed innocent enough, it didn’t take long to figure out why this is so. No cute substituting of any swear words here. The impeccable head concierge Monsieur Gustave, the main character played by Ralph Fiennes, swears profusely and elegantly every time he gets into a jam… which happens frequently. He swears with such calmness and finesse that his salty outbursts make him a comedic character. The rest of the film is a whirlwind of outlandish happenstance and near-death experiences.

Told from the point of view of “lobby boy in training,” Zero (played by newcomer Tony Revoloiri), the plot centers around the 1930s heyday of the titular hotel, a grand institution in a politically unstable Eastern European nation. When one of the wealthy patrons of the hotel mysteriously dies and leaves a priceless painting to M. Gustave, he is framed for her murder and forced to evade the authorities with the aid of the stalwart Zero. The plot passes by in a zany romp through the Hungarian countryside with more delightful twists, turns, and characters than you can stuff into a hotel spa.

Many Anderson regulars make their appearances: Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, and Edward Norton, to name a few. My favorite was Owen Wilson in an almost insignificant part playing an interim concierge named, of all things, Monsieur Chuck.

     However, the plot was not the highlight of the experience. Rarely have I been so aware of a film’s lighting and blocking. Both were carried out in such superbly original fashion. Because the action takes place in cramped rooms and streets of a fictional country, the film does not lend itself to wide vista shots, but to ones utilizing great depth of field, very like looking down a long tube.

Within that depth was a richness of detail, movement, and artistry seldom seen taken to such lengths. Many of the film’s more elaborate sets were miniatures, giving the piece a somewhat storybook quality while maintaining a realness of light, texture and weight. In addition, the longer shots are so well choreographed that it is staggering to consider. In short, it was a gem to behold.

Alas, Budapest is not perfect. The main plot is a story within a story within a book within reality, which can get a little confusing at times. Also, the ending comes rather abruptly with a farce of a shootout in which it is difficult to imagine that our heroes to be in true danger. Small faults aside, I greatly enjoyed The Grand Budapest Hotel and would gladly see it again. Anyone looking for a quirky, Technicolored, and subtly genius time at the cinema, I would certainly recommend that you see it, too.



The Grand Budapest Hotel is a beautiful film that Wes Anderson fans will surely appreciate.


  • Elaborate sets
  • Beautiful cinematography
  • Great acting


  • Confusing plot