The Grand Budapest Hotel, written and directed by Wes Anderson and starring Ralph Fiennes and Tony Revolori as Zero, the lobby boy, as well as a host of others familiar to the universe of Wes Anderson, including Tilda Swinton, Jeff Goldblum, Ed Norton, and Adrien Brody, is a somewhat comedic, almost comic book-like look at the experiences of a young boy and his mentor during the period of time between World War I and the outbreak of World War II.
Zero is hired as a lobby boy at the titular Grand Budapest Hotel, a first-class hotel in its time, where M. Gustav (Fiennes) is his mentor and father figure, teaching him the finer points of customer service. After the death of an elderly hotel guest and sometimes lover of Gustave, played by Tilda Swinton, in make-up to look elderly, a painting is stolen and a chase ensues, going all over the place, from trains to prison to churches and ski lifts, staying entertaining while providing interesting scenery in a look that is all Wes Anderson. The actions of the characters seem like cartoons come to life, with the scenery looking almost drawn into the background. It also employs some well known but nonetheless enjoyable prison gags, such as the file baked into a cake.
While the film is entertaining and well written, it has two minor female characters, one of whom is little more than a cameo and dies early on. The only other woman in sight is Zero’s love interest, played by Sairose Ronan, a talented actress with a part so unmemorable that I don’t recall her character’s name. There are literally no other women in sight for the entire movie. For a writer as talented as Anderson, one would think he could write a film that is more representative of the world, especially when his lead character is played by a Hispanic actor, a very rare sight in feature films, demonstrating an ability and desire to use actors that are not white males (though the rest of the cast is made up entirely of white males).
Aside from that flaw, the film is well executed and deserving of its best screenplay Academy Award nomination for its creative take on what is essentially a heist film.
The film is a must-see for Anderson fans and not as quirky as his films can sometimes be, making it an easy entree in the Anderson oeuvre for non-fans and those unfamiliar with his work, which includes such films as Rushmore, The Royal Tanenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited, and Moonrise Kingdom, as well.