tek's rating: ½

The Grand Budapest Hotel (R)
20th Century Studios; Criterion; IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; Searchlight; TV Tropes; Wes Anderson Wiki; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; Google Play; Hulu; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu; YouTube

Caution: potential spoilers.

A film by Wes Anderson. This came out in 2014, but I didn't see it until 2017. The story is bookended by a student approaching a shrine to an author, who I suppose is deceased. We then see the author (played by Tom Wilkinson) in 1985, narrating a story that takes place in 1968. And within his narration, we see the author as a younger man (played by Jude Law), when he was staying at the Grand Budapest Hotel, which was located in the fictional Republic of Zubrowka. By that point, the hotel was in a state of decline. One day, he spotted a guest who intrigued him, and asked the concierge, Monsieur Jean (Jason Schwartzman) about him. He tells the author that the man is the owner of the hotel, who shows up periodically to stay there for a week or so. His name is Zero Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham). Later, the author meets Zero, who says he's a fan of the author's work. The author expresses an interest in Zero's story, so Zero agrees to meet him later for dinner, at which point he will tell that story.

Zero's story begins in 1932, when as a young man (played by Tony Revolori) he became a lobby boy at the Grand Budapest Hotel. He became the protege of the concierge at that time, Monsieur Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes). Back then, the hotel was at the height of its grandeur (though as we'll learn at the end of the film, Gustave himself was perhaps a relic of an even grander era). Anyway, Gustave had... relationships... with probably all of the hotel's elderly guests, and I assume he genuinely cared about each of them. But this story is about one in particular, Madame CÚline Villeneuve Desgoffe und Taxis, aka Madame D. (Tilda Swinton, though I don't know that I ever would have recognized her, because she was made up to look quite realistically, I thought, like an old woman). She's leaving the hotel to return to her home in Lutz, but she has a very strong feeling that she'll never return to the hotel, so she wants either not to leave, or for Gustave to accompany her. But he insists she's worried about nothing. Subsequently, Zero reads in the newspaper that Madame D. has died. When he shares the news with Gustave, the latter insists that the two of them travel to Lutz, to pay their respects. (Or at least, for Gustave to pay his respects, and Zero to help him with his luggage.)

At the reading of the will (by a lawyer named Deputy Vilmos Kovacs, played by Jeff Goldblum), they learn that Madame D. left a priceless painting called Boy with Apple to Gustave. This is contested by her son, Dmitri Desgoffe und Taxis (Adrien Brody). So... Gustave and Zero steal the painting, and return to the Grand Budapest, where they hide it. But the police immediately show up and arrest Gustave, charged not with the theft of the painting, as one might suppose, but with the murder of Madame D. Meanwhile, Zero gets engaged to an assistant baker at the hotel, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), whom Zero will eventually drag into all this. Also meanwhile, there's an assassin named Jopling (Willen Dafoe), who works for Dmitri, who... does various unpleasant things, in his pursuit of Gustave (even before Dmitri realized the painting was missing). Eventually, Zero and Agatha help Gustave when a group of his fellow prisoners plan a prison break. Subsequently, Gustave and Zero receive help from a sort of secret society of concierges. And while all of this is going on, a war breaks out, which further complicates things. But throughout the whole ordeal, a strong bond forges itself between Zero and Gustave.

And... I must be leaving out lots of details. And certainly I won't say how it all ends. Not that it really matters; all that matters is the story, not the ending. Although of course we know Zero is still alive. At least in 1968, when he's telling his story to the author. And I really don't know what else to say, except that it's a really amusing movie, with lots of great actors (including some I haven't even mentioned). And... I also wanted to say that when I watched it on a DVD that I bought used, the movie would periodically skip, which was only mildly distracting. But I kind of imagined it could be intentional, something to make it seem like a much older movie than it was. I suppose it really was just a glitch on my DVD, but imagining it to be a feature made it less annoying than it might have been. And honestly, I wouldn't have been surprised if the skips had been an actual part of the movie. (But the important thing is I didn't really miss anything because of it.) Um... and, yeah, that's all I have to say.

quirky index