The Grand Budapest Hotel is exactly what we've come to expect from writer-director . In terms of stylization, characterization and more, you could never mistake this as anything other than a Wes Anderson movie. Some say Anderson isn't growing as a filmmaker, but this film suggests that couldn't be further from the truth, despite exploring themes found in his past work.
With The Fantastic Mr. Fox he tried his hand at animation, for Moonrise Kingdom he told a story, for the first time, from a child's perspective, and with The Grand Budapest Hotel he's made an action movie. This Anderson film is full of ambition, thanks to its grand set pieces, its exceedingly fast pace, and gigantic ensemble.
Some of those actors come and ago in this 100 minute film. The movie takes place in a few different points in history, but it mostly follows Monsieur Gustave H. (), a hotel concierge for The Grand Budapest Hotel in the 1920s. The European Hotel is a landmark, where everything must be done with perfection. It's a hot spot mostly for old ladies. They all come for Gusatve's companionship and refined service. One of those old ladies, Madame D. (), is suddenly murdered. Her death is pinned on Gustave, who we know is innocent from the start. The elegant man with a heated temper and an appetite for life must go on the run.
Anderson's film moves at a breathless pace, almost to a fault. He covers so many genres in his fast moving narrative -- a love story, a murder mystery, a comedy, a drama, and more -- and it all makes for a fruitful narrative. This is a movie that has everything for everyone, even if it is a tad overstuffed.
For the most part, Anderson keeps his focus on Gustave's adventure and his loyal lobby boy, with the latter character looking back on these events as an old man. It's a buddy movie, in some regard. Their relationship is what gives the film its heart, making the action and jokes have a real pulse. There's a humanity to all the stylized touches.
"Fun" is the best way to describe the movie. Dramatically it doesn't reach its ambition. The lobby boy has a relationship with a young girl (Saorise Ronan) that doesn't quite fit. When Anderson tries to milk emotion out of their love, it's not nearly as compelling as the rest of the film. Since the film has a sonic speed pace, there's little time to dwell on this problem. Everything else is exceedingly well-realized.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is as charismatic, as exacting, and as charming as Monsieur Gustave. Anderson pushes himself as a filmmaker to bring this world to life. This is an irresistible burst of comic force, shown with a camera that never seems to stop. This appears to be the most fun Anderson has had in years.