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The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

Genre -- Comedy
Premise -- "The adventures of Gustave H, a legendary concierge at a famous hotel from the fictional Republic of Zubrowka between the first and second World Wars, and Zero Moustafa, the lobby boy who becomes his most trusted friend."

The Grand Budapest Hotel gets better each time I watch it. You could say that I've developed a sweet tooth for this colorful, zesty, and delicious dessert of a film - or what I'd imagine a treat from Mendl's, a fictional pastry shop in the film, would taste like. However, there's nothing superficial or artificial about this Wes Anderson gem, as it showcases his ability to expertly combine idiosyncrasies with human emotion.

A common criticism leveled at The Grand Budapest Hotel, or in fact all of Anderson's filmography, is that its characters are obsessively quirky, launching into witty observations every other second. While that rings true for Rushmore and to some extent The Royal Tenanbaums, Budapest features some of Anderson's most subtle and distinct characters. For example, the film's main character, Zero the Lobby Boy, is hardly talkative at all; rather, his penchant for silence implicitly reveals his turbulent childhood without the need for excessive exposition. Agatha's instant gravitation towards Zero is justified as well, as her mundane life is revealed through efficient and contrasting shots. The latter characteristic of those shots is noticeable when Anderson transitions from the brightly pink Grand Budapest Hotel to the blue/white buildings that surround Agatha, as well as her faded brown clothes. A combination of blue, pink, and brown - a great way of showing visually that Zero and Agatha are meant for each either, the combination similar to, again, a Mendl's treat.

I could go on forever about the symbolism of JUST that one location, but alas, we must move on. Obviously, Ralph Fiennes is brilliant as Monsieur Gustave, the hotel's no-nonsense and insanely romantic concierge. His dialogue is consistently funny; however, it never interferes with the film's themes - courage and friendship - creating a thoroughly enjoyable character. Maybe the executives developing the next Pirates of the Caribbean film can learn from this? Speaking of characters, Anderson has an innate ability to create memorable people, and honestly, I'm jealous of that. Even the old man who forgets that Madam D, his relative (!), had passed away is so one-of-a-kind and amusing that I can't help but chuckle when imagining him.

The plot is your standard Anderson-esque recollection of past events peppered with elements of caper and period films, but even this shows that, as Roger Ebert famously said, "it's not what a film is about, but HOW it is about." You could give Wes Anderson the most hackneyed script in his speciality genres and he'd find a way to make it his own. The Grand Budapest Hotel, as a concept, is unspectacular. Nevertheless, a miraculous combination of a perfect writer-director-producer and great actors made it seem believable and even immortal. I've heard 14-year old Korean teens talk enthusiastically about this film; most students I tutor have either heard of the film or saw it and liked it. Mark my words, this great film will not be forgotten fast.