A meticulously crafted and charming buddy adventure film of sorts that is surprisingly melancholic underneath its colorful facade.

The Grand Budapest Hotel recounts the adventures of M. Gustave, 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 of a suddenly and dramatically changing continent. [Fox Searchlight]

The Grand Budapest Hotel is the most elaborate (so far) of Anderson’s work – juggling multiple narratives, featuring numerous colorful set pieces, and packing in all his regular players and adding a bit more. It’s a charming film with kinetic and intricate moving parts.

Anderson spins one scenario into different narratives, throwing its two main characters into middle of a whodunit story, a prison escape turned adventure and a battle for a Renaissance painting against the backdrop of a war. In between you have murder and mayhem, as well as friendship and love.

Anderson deftly connects all these narratives into an exciting plot with a fitting score. The different aspect ratios enhances his compositions and there’s never a dull moment in the film. It has screwball comedy and dark humor with perfect timing.

The cast is an ensemble of familiar faces that have been featured in previous Anderson films, and some newcomers who may appear in what’s to come. Everyone pitches in with great performances despite limited screen time. Ralph Fiennes, as expected, is amazing as M. Gustave – charming and upbeat yet crassly opportunistic. Toni Revolori is able to infuse personality into a character that would have easily turned into forgettable wind-up toy as an assistant.

While the characters here don’t have much depth and the film is inconsequential, it does have a bit more substance that you wouldn’t expect underneath all that colorful dioramas and visuals.

It takes a look at greed and fascism that brews underneath the facade of aristocracy and old world glamor. Like its character M. Gustave, The Grand Budapest Hotel clings to a world of quaint elegance, pomp and pompadour. Inevitably, time and change catches up, and what was once legendary is now a crumbling reminder of the past.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is not concerned with what’s real nor plausible and has a revolving door of uninvolving characters, but it’s still a highly enjoyable, well crafted and original film.

My Rating: 9/10

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