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The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

tomatometer

92

Average Rating: 8.4/10
Reviews Counted: 209
Fresh: 193 | Rotten: 16

Typically stylish but deceptively thoughtful, The Grand Budapest Hotel finds Wes Anderson once again using ornate visual environments to explore deeply emotional ideas.

89

Average Rating: 8.4/10
Critic Reviews: 45
Fresh: 40 | Rotten: 5

Typically stylish but deceptively thoughtful, The Grand Budapest Hotel finds Wes Anderson once again using ornate visual environments to explore deeply emotional ideas.

audience

89

liked it
Average Rating: 4.2/5
User Ratings: 45,074

My Rating

Movie Info

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL recounts the adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous European hotel between the wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend. The story involves the theft and recovery of a priceless Renaissance painting and the battle for an enormous family fortune -- all against the back-drop ofa suddenly and dramatically changing Continent. (c) Fox Searchlight

R,

Drama, Comedy

Wes Anderson, Stefan Zweig, Hugo Guinnss

$39.5M

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All Critics (210) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (193) | Rotten (16)

The movie is a flume ride through the imagination of one of the most creative minds making movies today, and the pleasure curls your toes. Also, be ready to crave some macaroons.

March 22, 2014 Full Review Source: Miami Herald
Miami Herald
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Budapest" is pretty much an old-fashioned screwball comedy garishly dressed. It's goofy, eccentric and often downright silly. There are many scenes that would have worked in a "Three Stooges" movie.

March 21, 2014 Full Review Source: Detroit News
Detroit News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

After feeding on this sweet buffet, sated cinephiles will want to call the front desk to extend their stay.

March 20, 2014 Full Review Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The comedy in The Grand Budapest Hotel is among the broadest yet undertaken by Anderson. But amid the frenzied hubbub, there are intimations of a darker, sadder history unfolding.

March 14, 2014 Full Review Source: The Atlantic
The Atlantic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

If a movie can be elegantly zany, this wholly imaginative, assured fable of a legendary concierge Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes), his protégé Zero (Tony Revolori) and the murder of a countess, is it.

March 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Denver Post
Denver Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

From the start, it's clear Anderson is working with a new sophistication both in the vocabulary and structure of the film's voiceover narrations.

March 14, 2014 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Any single frame qualifies for wall space in a cinematic museum as the players ingeniously apply their emotive elasticity to fit the Anderson universe.

April 15, 2014 Full Review Source: Cinema Signals
Cinema Signals

Eloquent, offbeat and charming, The Grand Budapest Hotel is Anderson's most accomplished film to date.

April 13, 2014 Full Review Source: Concrete Playground
Concrete Playground

Fiennes is magnificent, his droll wit and a "keep calm and carry on" delivery occasionally peppered with highlights of profanity and fire. Comedic timing perfection.

April 12, 2014 Full Review Source: The Mercury
The Mercury

Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel is a work of visceral, madcap comedic genius.

April 11, 2014 Full Review Source: 2UE That Movie Show
2UE That Movie Show

Another visually scrumptious cinematic doily from America's master of over-designed whimsy, Wes Anderson, and this one is measurably better than many of his previous efforts in that there's something resembling a plot at the heart of it.

April 11, 2014 Full Review Source: 3AW

Filled with fully fleshed out characters, amazing dialogue and a look that is right out of the 1940s, the film travels smoothly on the shoulders of Ralph Fiennes.

April 11, 2014 Full Review Source: MediaMikes
MediaMikes

A fairytale for adults, this is Anderson's über-film thus far, utilising the entire breadth and astonishing depth of his imagination to bear exquisite humour and life in every single, immaculately composed shot.

April 11, 2014 Full Review Source: ABC Radio (Australia)
ABC Radio (Australia)

Anderson's focus on oddball humor, audaciously eloquent dialogue, and cartoonish absurdity remains central and doesn't get derailed by the overly forced attempts at familial pathos that have marred some of his other films

April 11, 2014 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

swallowed whole by the grey beast solipsism.

April 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

It's satisfying to see this level of craftsmanship applied to a film that is often so silly it's a pure delight to watch.

April 10, 2014 Full Review Source: Flicks.co.nz
Flicks.co.nz

This is full of the elements you expect to find in a Wes Anderson film. There are lovingly composed tableaus - each a marvel of production design - immaculately designed uniforms for both soldiers and hotel bellboys and a sighting of Bill Murray.

April 9, 2014 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

This is about as fun as movie-going gets. Fans of Anderson's work should love it; those who've disliked the artifice and nostalgia of his earlier films will find those elements put to more entertaining use here.

April 9, 2014 Full Review Source: The Vine
The Vine

Anderson is at the middle of point of his life, considering the uncertainty of the world.

April 8, 2014 Full Review Source: Impulse Gamer
Impulse Gamer

Often lazily and unfairly accused of crafting works that trump style over substance, Anderson's painstaking attention to detail here beautifully serves the story.

April 7, 2014 Full Review Source: FILMINK (Australia)
FILMINK (Australia)

It's an eloquent, observant and mature comedy about the decay of an era.

April 7, 2014 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

The Grand Budapest Hotel is as inventive and immaculately orchestrated a cinematic universe as I've ever seen.

April 6, 2014 Full Review Source: Quickflix
Quickflix

It is beautifully designed, visually ravishing and symmetrical to the nth degree. And it is full of frantic chaos, with a Lord of Misrule at its centre played with effortless comic brilliance by Ralph Fiennes.

April 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Sydney Morning Herald
Sydney Morning Herald

The success of Anderson's admirable ambition is to have elevated anachronism, pastiche, personal passions and larger cultural memory to a heady froth, but one that also knows the butt-end of a rifle.

April 4, 2014 Full Review Source: Newcity
Newcity

The result is a deliciously rich and, dare I say, old-fashioned entertainment, filled with affectionate jokes and cinematic references.

April 4, 2014 Full Review Source: The Australian
The Australian

In addition to being a character-driven caper, beautifully designed, it's also an excellent tribute to the act of yearning for a better world.

April 4, 2014 Full Review Source: SF Weekly
SF Weekly

Audience Reviews for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Wes Anderson hasn't affected this much heart since The Royal Tenenbaums and hasn't had a character like M. Gustave ever. Full review later.
April 15, 2014
TomBowler
Thomas Bowler

Super Reviewer

When I reviewed Moonrise Kingdom over a year ago, I complained that it was hard to form strong emotional bonds with the characters because the entire film felt overly choreographed. While Wes Anderson's brilliance as a cinematic craftsman was never in any doubt, it all felt a little too tightly controlled to pass muster as a genuinely heartwarming story about young love and free spirits.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is equally meticulous in its craft, but it is a much better vehicle for Anderson. Its status as a caper comedy places a much more conscious emphasis on the various plot machinations, allowing him to show off his knowledge and affection for cinema without undermining or overshadowing his characters. The result is a very funny slice of finely-tuned frivolity which finds Anderson almost back to his best.

As with all of Anderson's work, The Grand Budapest Hotel looks absolutely beautiful. There is the same powdery quality to the colour scheme as in Moonrise Kingdom, but the emphasis has shifted from summery yellows and woody browns to darker, more regal blues and frothy pinks. Anderson's compositions are as meticulous as ever, and the film utilises many of his familiar tricks, such as symmetrical wide shots, carefully timed circular pans and quirky model shots.

As with all of Anderson's films, however, there are unusual narrative quirks which can sometimes threaten to make the experience too arch and alienating to bond with the characters. In this case, there is his device of handing over the telling of the story from one person to another. The film begins with a lady reading a book in front of a statue of Tom Wilkinson; then Wilkinson (the author of the book) hands over to Jude Law (his younger self); then Law talks to F. Murray Abraham, who finally begins to recount his memories.

It's easy to understand the point that Anderson is making through this device. He is positively besotted with the art of storytelling and is trying to convey that love through a visual medium rather than a literary one. There's also a sly nod with the casting of Abraham, since Amadeus employed a similar device of its main character recounting the story in his old age. But while this device is affectionate, it is not entirely necessary to the story being told, and your enjoyment therein will depend on whether you regard it as an apt demonstration of passion or a needless indulgence.

To some extent, this dilemma is presented in the visuals of the film. While the main action takes place in the early-1930s, with the horrors of World War II still far away, the introduction takes place in the late-1960s. Interwar opulence and luxury is counterpointed with Soviet-era functionality, and by repeating mechanical actions in both periods (such as the strange transport to the hotel), an air of decline and melancholy quickly descends upon proceedings.

Having created an intriguing mood, Anderson gives us a number of quirky, interesting characters with whom we bond and whom we find very funny. Much of the praise has deservedly centred on Ralph Fiennes, who is absolutely brilliant as Gustave H.. The performance works because he believes so deeply in the character on a dramatic level; Fiennes' chops give Gustave a sense of weight and purpose which an out-and-out comic actor might not have achieved. It's an irresitible blend of whimsy, pathos, elegance and mischief, and may be one of the best of Fiennes' illustrious career.

As I mentioned in my Moonrise Kingdom review, much of the pleasure of Anderson's films comes from him getting performances out of actors that no-one would have expected. It's not too much of a stretch to have Willem Dafoe as a thug in knuckle-dusters, or Jeff Goldblum as a stuffy, by-the-book lawyer (who ends up losing his fingers). But it is a pleasant surprise to see Adrian Brody as the villain of the piece, or Tilda Swinton as Gustave's elderly lover whose death sets off the entire caper.

In executing the caper aspect of the film, Anderson plays a very crafty trick. The quirkiness of his characters leads us to accept that they will speak in a manner which is different to our own; we accept this within the first five minutes as part of the overall style. This quirkiness allows him to have characters delivering exposition at break-neck speed, and yet it feels like a long joke rather than plot details.

There are numerous scenes in The Grand Budapest Hotel which are just characters reciting plot exposition directly to camera, something that would have been roundly lambasted had the film been helmed by another director. But rather than do as Hitchcock did and "sugar-coat" exposition with suspense, Anderson deliberately draws attention to it and uses it to celebrate the caper genre in all its ridiculousness. It's not so much hidden in plain sight as a Brechtian device, with the film constantly reminding you of its artificiality.

This is further reflected in the film's set-pieces. Take the hysterically funny sledging sequence, in which Gustave and Zero chase Jopling down a slalom course and ski jump, ending with Zero flinging Jopling off a cliff. The close-ups are achieved with the Hollywood technique of back projection, while the aerial shots are consciously done with detailed scale models. It's arguably just a massive Hitchcock reference, looking back to the skiing scene in the opening of The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Like Bertolt Brecht's work, The Grand Budapest Hotel draws our attention to the artificial, mechanical nature of the story in order to illuminate some deeper, universal truth. On top of being a great, frothy caper, the film is about the passing of an age and with it a particular kind of character. Gustave is characterised throughoutt as being the last of a breed, someone already out of sorts in his own time and longing for release. The film presents its own fictional take on the build-up to World War II, with Gustave coming across like a lighter, more dandyish companion to Christopher Tietjens, the protagonist of Parade's End.

The true success of Anderson's film is that it allows you to enjoy it on whichever level you please. It operates on the same principle as Gladiator: it is both a philosophical exploration of death, morality and a life beyond this, and two hours of people hitting each other. You can read into The Grand Budapest Hotel's colour schemes, seeing the pink motif as a symbol of faded passion and sexuality, or you can just sit there laughing louder and louder at the brilliant action. Both responses are valid, and while the film is not as deep as Gladiator, it deserves praise for achieving this balance.

The Great Budapest Hotel sees Anderson returning to form, delivering a film whose whimsy and quirkiness is anchored and balanced by enjoyable, empathetic characters. While some will still balk at his approach to storytelling, and it isn't as thematically rich as perhaps it could have been, it is still an immensely enjoyable, funny and rewarding watch. It is a good way to introduce newcomers to Anderson's signature style, and is the most enjoyable film of the year to date.
April 14, 2014
Daniel Mumby
Daniel Mumby

Super Reviewer

Wes Anderson is a filmmaker whose very name is a brand itself. There are a small number of filmmakers who have an audience that will pay to see their next film regardless of whatever the hell it may be about. Steven Spielberg is the world's most successful director but just having his name attached to a movie, is that enough to make you seek it out and assume quality? If so, I imagine there were more than a few disappointed with War Horse and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But Wes Anderson has gotten to that height of audience loyalty after only seven movies, mostly because there are expectations of what an Anderson film will deliver. And deliver is what the quirky, fast-paced, darkly comic, and overall delightful Grand Budapest Hotel does.

In the far-off country of Zubrowka, there lays the famous hotel known the world over, the Grand Budapest. The head of the hotel, the concierge, is Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), a highly mannered Renaissance man who caters to the every whim of his cliental. Zero (Tony Revolori), an orphaned refugee, is Mr. Gustave's apprentice, a lobby boy in training learning from the master in the ways of hospitality. Gustave likes to leave people satisfied, including the wealthy dowagers that come from far just for him (Gustave: "She was dynamite in the sack," Zero: "She was... 84," Gustave: "I've had older."). One of these very old, very rich ladies is found murdered and in her rewritten will, the old bitty had left a priceless portrait to Gustave. Her scheming family, lead by a combustible Adrien Brody, plots to regain the painting, which Gustave and Zero have absconded with.

For Wes Anderson fans, they'll be in heaven. I recently climbed back aboard the bandwagon after the charming and accessible Moonrise Kingdom, and Grand Budapest is an excellent use of the man's many idiosyncratic skills. The dollhouse meticulous art design is present, as well as the supercharged sense of cock-eyed whimsy, but it's a rush for Anderson to pair a story that fits snuggly with his sensibilities. The movie is a series of elaborate chases, all coordinated with the flair of a great caper, and the result is a movie over pouring with entertainment. Just when you think you have the film nailed down, Anderson introduces another conflict, another element, another spinning plate to his narrative trickery, and the whimsy and the stakes get taken up another notch. The point of contention I have with the Anderson films I dislike (Life Aquatic, Darjeeling Limited) is the superficial nature of the films. As I said in my review for Darjeeling, Anderson was coming across like a man "more interested in showing off his highly elaborate production design than crafting interesting things for his characters to do inside those complex sets." With this film, he hones his central character relationships down to Gustave and Zero, and he can't stop giving them things to do. Thankfully, those things have merit, they impact the story rather than serving as curlicue diversions. We get an art heist, a prison break, a ski chase, a murderous Willem Dafoe leaving behind a trail of bodies, not to mention several other perilous escapes. This is a film packed with fast-paced plot, with interesting actions for his actors, maybe even too packed, opening with three relatively unnecessary frame stories, jumping from modern-day, to the 1980s, back to the 1960s, and finally settling into the 1930s in our fictional Eastern European country.

The other issue with Anderson's past films, when they have underachieved, is that the flights of whimsy come into conflict with the reality of the characters. That is not to say you cannot have a mix of pathos and the fantastical, but it needs to be a healthy combination, one where the reality of the creation goes undisturbed. With Grand Budapest, Anderson has concocted his best character since Rushmore's Max Fisher. Gustave is another overachieving, highly literate, forward-driving charmer that casually collects admirers into his orbit, but he's also a man putting on a performance for others. As the head of the Grand Budapest, he must keep the illusion of refinement, the erudite and all-knowing face of the luxurious respite for the many moneyed guests. He has to conceal all the sweat and labor to fulfill this image, and so he is a character with two faces. His officiously courtly manner of speaking can be quite comical, but it's also an insightful indication that he is a man of the Old World, a nostalgic European realm of class and civilization on the way out with looming war and brutality. And as played by the effortlessly charming Fiennes (Skyfall), Gustave is a scoundrel that the audience roots for, sympathizes with, scolds, but secretly desire his approval, much like Zero. It is a magnificent performance that stands as one of the best in any Anderson film.

The fun of a Wes Anderson movie is the zany surprises played with deadpan sincerity, and there is plenty in Grand Budapest to produce smiles and laughter. It's hard to describe exactly which jokes land the best in a Wes Anderson film because they form a patchwork that elevates the entire movie, building an odd world where oddballs can fit right in. It was under a minute before I laughed, and I smiled through just about every remaining minute of the film. I enjoyed a joke involving a dead cat that just kept being carried from scene to scene. I enjoyed a sexually graphic painting that just happened to be lying around. I enjoyed the fact that Zero draws on a mustache every morning to better fit in with the men of his day. But mostly I just enjoyed the characters interacting with one another, especially Gustave and Zero, which forms into the emotional core of the film. It begins as a zany chase film and matures as it continues, tugging at your feelings with the father/son relationship (there's also a subtly sweet romance for Zero and a pastry girl played by Saoirse Ronan). One of the big surprises is the splash of dark violence that ground the whimsy, reminding you of the reality of death as war and fascism creep on the periphery. In fact, the movie is rather matter-of-fact about human capacity for cruelty, so much so that significant characters will be bumped off (mostly off screen) in a style that might seem disarming and unsatisfying. It's the mixture of the melancholy and the whimsy that transforms Grand Budapest into a macabre fairy tale of grand proportions.

The only warning I have is that many of the star-studded cast members have very brief time on screen. It's certainly Fiennes and Revolori's show, but familiar names like Bill Murray, Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, Jeff Goldblum, Lea Seydoux, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, F. Murray Abraham, and Bob Balaban are in the film for perhaps two scenes apiece, no more than three minutes of screen time apiece. Norton, Brody, and Dafoe have the most screen time of the supporting cast. Though how does Revolori age into the very non-ethnic Abraham? It reminded me of Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (here me out) where, as she ages, Chun-Li becomes less and less Chinese in her facial appearance. Anyway, the brevity of cast screen time is detrimental to the enjoyment of the film, considering all the plot elements being juggled, but I would have liked even more with the dispirit array of fun characters.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is Wes Anderson at his best, pared down into a quirky crime caper anchored by a hilariously verbose scoundrel and his protégé. Naturally, the technical merits of the film are outstanding, from the intricate art direction and set dressing, to the period appropriate costumes, to the camerawork by longtime cinematographer Robert Yeoman. The movie is a visually lavish and handcrafted biosphere, a living dollhouse whose central setting ends up becoming a character itself. The trademark fanciful artifice is alive and well but this time populated with interesting characters, a sense of agency, and an accessible emotional core. The faults in Anderson's lesser films have been fine-tuned and fixed here, and the high-speed plotting and crazy characters that continually collide left me amused and excited. If you're looking for a pair of films to introduce neophytes into the magical world of Wes Anderson, you may want to consider Grand Budapest with Moonrise Kingdom (Royal Tenenbaums if they need bigger names). In the end, I think Anderson more than identifies with his main character, Gustave, a man enchanted in a world of his own creation, a world better than the real one. Who needs the real world when you've got The Grand Budapest Hotel?

Nate's Grade: A
April 7, 2014
boxman
Nate Zoebl

Super Reviewer

Wes Anderson's films range from flawless to instantly forgettable and The Grand Budapest Hotel is exceptionally close to the former. Shot in a variety of cinematic styles while expertly blending two oft forgotten genres - screwball comedy and murder mystery - in a seemless story within a story narrative, this is a fantastic film. Funny, unique, and Ralph Fiennes is at his best.
April 5, 2014
MovieGeek13

Super Reviewer

    1. Henckels: By order of the commissioner of police, Zubrowka Province, I hereby place you under arrest for the murder of Madame Celine Villenueve Desgoffe-und-Taxis.
    2. M. Gustave: I knew there was something fishy. We never got the cause of death. She's been murdered, and you think I did it?
    – Submitted by Ken C (12 days ago)
    1. M. Gustave: You're looking so well darling, you really are. I don't know what sort of cream they put on you down at the morgue but, I want some.
    – Submitted by Ken C (12 days ago)
    1. Deputy Kovacs: Did he just throw my cat out of the window?
    – Submitted by Ken C (12 days ago)
    1. M. Gustave: You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilization left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity. Indeed that's what we provide in our own modest, humble, insignificant... oh, fuck it.
    – Submitted by Ken C (12 days ago)
    1. Zero Moustafa: Don't flirt with her.
    – Submitted by Manvinder G (13 days ago)
    1. M. Gustave: She was dynamite in the sack by the way.
    2. Zero Moustafa: She was 84.
    3. M. Gustave: I've had older.
    – Submitted by Patrick B (14 days ago)
View all quotes (15)

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