In the 2014 comedy film The Grand Budapest Hotel, written and directed by Wes Anderson, Ralph Fiennes stars as Gustave H, the legendary concierge of the eponymous hotel, who must prove his innocence after being framed of murder. With the help of his lobby boy, Zero Moustafa, played by Tony Revolori, Gustave embarks on a hilarious adventure to escape the authorities as war closes in on the Republic of Zubrowka, the fictional Eastern European nation they call home (Zubrowka, funnily enough, is actually a kind of vodka).
Gustave's adventure begins in 1932, as the hotel nears the end of its golden years. The Republic of Zubrowka is on the verge of war, but at the classy hotel things continue as they always have. Gustave manages to attend to the needs of the hotel's rich patrons and supervise his staff with the utmost devotion while simultaneously courting a number of old blonde women who all stay at the hotel so as to enjoy the "exceptional service" he has to offer. One of these women is the fabulously wealthy Madame D. During her very last stay at the hotel, Gustave spends the night with her in her room.
A few days later Gustave hears the news that his lover Madame D has died under mysterious circumstances. When he arrives at her wake shortly thereafter he learns that in her will she bequeathed him the very valuable Renaissance painting 'Boy With Apple'. This is highly outrageous to her family, all of whom hoped to inherit it themselves, in particular her son, Dmitri Desgoffe-und-Taxis, played by Adrien Brody. Gustav has just enough time to hide the painting in a safe at the hotel before he is subsequently framed and arrested for the murder of Madame D. He is jailed and thus his quest to right these wrongs begins in the midst of the battle for the immense family fortune and the battle for Zubrowka itself.
The film presents a multi-layered story packed with wild fun, wit, and fancy as well as a pervading sense of old world melancholy due to the realism of the violently tragic historical setting. Indeed the seemless integration of this deep contrast contributes significantly to the film's mature heart and artistry. It would also be impossible to overlook the star studded cast, including Willem Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, and Jason Schwartzman, whose characters keep the action moving at a ferocious pace through each twist, never allowing the fresh narrative to grow stale.
Overall, Wes Anderson's latest work is a visually vivid and emotionally deep tale that provides a new take on the unique style that has grown familiar to his fans. Anderson does not abandon his style's hallmarks, he merely recognizes its limitations when confronted with certain of the film's brutal realities. Many critics will not hesitate to call The Grand Budapest Hotel one of his best works, or at least one of his best in recent memory.