At the beginning of this year, I watched several trailers for “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. I didn’t particularly like the previews and thought the movie came across as merely slapstick comedy. Therefore, since I always have too many films to watch and never enough time to see them all, I quickly placed this movie in the “Won’t See” category.
Soon after the film’s release in the Spring, it began to get more and more glowing reviews. Within only a few weeks, “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was being hailed as a serious contender for several Academy Awards. Then people began to email me and recommend–no, make that demand–that I see it. By the end of this past summer, I’d committed myself to watching it. At the beginning of October, I ordered “The Grand Budapest Hotel” on DVD from Netflix.
Then it started…a staring contest. A staring contest that any 11-year old would have been proud of me for doing and holding strong against that bright, red Netflix envelope. Days went by without me even contemplating an introduction between the DVD and my DVR. Before I knew it, a solid month had pasted–and it was now November. Then Thanksgiving. All of those college football games, “Homeland”, “The Walking Dead” and “Sons of Anarchy” series episodes airing for hours on end. All TV programming watched diligently with me only acknowledging the existence of “that” unseen DVD; twice I checked to make sure the movie disk was still in its sheath. The staring contest continued into the month of December.
After 9 1/2 weeks (a great movie BTW), I’d endured enough and was ready to put this film behind me, if only to re-set my Netflix Queue. So I pushed PLAY-> and sat back with an open mind.
And I was surprised…..
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is a short film, only lasting 1 hour and 39 minutes in duration. It’s about a young boy, an apprentice really, learning from the master concierge at a ritzy hotel nestled in the picturesque mountains of Europe in 1932. The horrid slapstick humor I fretted over during the film’s previews never materialized. Instead, the ensemble performed in a more theatric–or whimsical mode.
The underline storyline of respect towards others is challenged by those with greed or hate to grind in the movie. While the thin plot about a priceless painting being fought over after a matriarch’s death is watchable, the most interesting part of the movie is the characters themselves. Two-time Oscar nominee Ralph Fiennes leads this outstanding cast and provides the sophistication that the M. Gustave role demanded, almost effortlessly. Likewise, big screen newcomer Tony Revolori does a wonderful job as the Lobby Boy, Zero Moustafa.
Look for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” to be nominated in a handful of Oscar categories and to win in several. The easy calls, where the film stands an excellent chance, include: Best Production Design, Best Costume Design and Best Director. It could also land Academy Award nominations for Best Screenplay and Best Picture. Lastly, don’t dismiss Fiennes’ performance for Best Actor.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this film. It kept my attention with action throughout, especially with the long list of distinguished actors making small appearances. Although I probably wouldn’t place this film in my Top 10 of 2014, I would still highly recommend viewers rent it. Just don’t stare at it.
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” is rated R for language and some sexual content and violence.
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