Nostalgia has a way of brightening up the past, so director Wes Anderson's stylized technique perfectly matches the trip down memory lane that is The Grand Budapest Hotel.
This movie is a story within a story within a story.  We first see a student at a memorial to an author.  We then go back to 1985, where the author (Jude Writer) is staying at at the old, fading Grand Budapest Hotel in the fictional country of Zubrowka.  He is intrigued by Zero Moursafa (F. Murray Abraham), a rich man who insists on staying at this hotel.  Zero then tells his own story, going back to 1935 -- and the glory days of the Grand Budapest.

Young Zero (Tony Revolon) is a bellboy at the Grand Budapest, and his boss, mentor, and friend is M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), the concierge at the Grand Budapest.  Gustave insists on culture and civility, providing for his guests and quoting poetry (though inclined to curse when surprised or speaking privately).  He also sleeps with a lot of elderly hotel guests.  This last trait has him in the will of an elderly woman who dies under mysterious circumstances and leaves him a priceless painting called Boy with Apple.  This gift angers the woman's eldest son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) and Jopling (Willem Dafoe), an assassin and sociopath working for Dmitri.  Gustave swipes and hides the painting, is framed for murder, and goes on the run with Zero.  There are a number of odd characters along the way: Henckles (Edward Norton), a law officer after
Gustave; Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), a baker and Zero's sweetheart; and a number of characters played by Wes Anderson regulars like Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Jason Schwartzman and Tom Wilkinson.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is delightfully artificial.  The characters all speak and move very self-awarely, which may be the lens of the elderly Zero thinking fondly of the good old days.  Ralph Fiennes is very fun as the M. Gustave, making him an eccentric character who believes first and foremost in manners and politeness even amid the craziness surrounding him.  The rest of the cast does well (even if some come and go in minutes), and Anderson keeps things going at a zany pace.  The deliberate artificiality can be a bit distracting at times, but The Grand Budapest Hotel is as enjoyable and frothy a treat as Agatha's pastries.

Overall grade: B
Reviewed by James Lynch

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