This is the real comedy film. The one that doesn't require slapstick to draw laughter from the audience; it only needs witty lines along with a funny story.
Aside from Daniel Day-Lewis and Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes is one the best British actors around. He was a cold Nazi officer in Schindler's List, he was a sad English Patient, and a feared god in Clash of the Titans, where his first address to the mortals is one of my favorite quotes in cinema: "I am Hades. Kneel."
Now, try saying that to your potential voters during a campaign for election, or when you introduce yourself at a PTA meeting. Ha-ha-ha! He was also Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter series.
That's how good Ralph Fiennes is.
And here, in The Grand Budapest Hotel, he was seriously hilarious. With perfect timing, crisp delivery and the funniest lines I have heard in a decade, he brought his character Monsieur Gustave H., a hotel concierge, to a comic life that was even bigger than the hotel he was running.
Though Grand Budapest Hotel was released in the spring of 2014, it is being re-released in early 2015 because of its nine Oscar nominations. Most of its cast members are mostly familiar names: Jude Law, Tilda Swinton, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe, Bill Murray, Jeff Goldblum, Edward Norton, and Harvey Keitel. It was fun watching these actors unexpectedly show up in some scenes.
But aside from Ralph Fiennes, his sidekick in the film, Zero Moustafa, was played by a new name, Tony Revolori, who held his own against Fiennes. Monsieur Gustave was sophisticated, smart and meticulous; Zero was young, clueless and stateless. They were the perfect funny duo. Without these two, the Grand Budapest Hotel would just have only been a B&B, or a backpackers' inn. Or worse, a motel! Ha-ha-ha!
Even Tilda Swinton, who was fierce as the Queen of Narnia, and a cunning lawyer in Michael Clayton, where she won an Oscar for her supporting role, was funny as an aging, eccentric millionaire hotel guest. Although her screen time was only a few minutes, she made sure the audience remembers her all throughout the 100 minutes of the film.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is a fictional period film, which reminds me of Robert Downey, Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes; it was fast and each scene is as important as the next. And the art direction is as cute as the Mendl's cakes. You'd know what I mean when you see the cakes in the movie.
And one of my favorite M. Gustave quotes?
"If I die first, and I almost certainly will, you will be my sole heir. There's not much in the kitty, except a set of ivory-backed hairbrushes and my library of romantic poetry, but when the time comes, these will be yours. Along with whatever we haven't already spent on whores and whiskey."
So, if you want a good laugh, I suggest you check in at The Grand Budapest Hotel by Wes Anderson. It's one movie I'd watch over and over again. Good luck to them at the Oscars!
It gets my vote for Best Picture!
* * * * *Photos courtesy the Grand Budapest Hotel website.