How do I love the work of Wes Anderson? Let me count the ways. Anderson may be the most consistently original filmmaker to emerge during the 25 years I've been writing about film in New York. He has a distinctive style that only gets deeper as he matures -- and The Grand Budapest Hotel may be his most emotionally engaged, dramatically varied film of his career.
A story within a story within a story, Grand Budapest features many of the familiar faces of Anderson's stock company, if only in smaller roles: Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray, Owen Wilson and several others. But it also brings Ralph Fiennes into the Anderson flock, as the story's central character, M. Gustave H., concierge nonpareil at the title establishment, a fictional mittel-European country in the years between the world wars.
The story itself hits a range of odd notes, from M. Gustave's ambisexuality to the precision mechanics of running a luxury hotel to the fine art of wooing the elderly women who are its guests -- to dealing with the rising threat of Nazism. But it is the deft, exceptionally light touch that Fiennes brings to moments both comic and serious that gives this engine its fuel.
This review continues on my website.