Just as Liam Neeson has become an unlikely action hero through films like "Non-Stop," it appears that Ralph Fiennes has been born anew as a comedic genius, all thanks to Wes Anderson.
Fiennes' funny-man chops are on full display in Anderson's new film, "The Grand Budapest Hotel," or so the reviews indicate. His work as hotelier Gustave H. has earned high praise from the critics, as has Anderson's humorous but heartfelt vision of a fictional country torn apart by war, as viewed from many generations and vantage points.
Read on for what the critics are saying about "The Grand Budapest Hotel," currently in limited release:
The Story (Within a Story, Within Another Story)
"Inspired by the literary world of Vienna's Stefan Zweig, Anderson takes us back in time to a story within a story. The author of a new book entitled 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' (Tom Wilkinson) launches the narrative in 1985, and swiftly returns to 1968, when his younger self (Jude Law) meets Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham), owner of the broken-down Grand Budapest Hotel in the Republic of Zubrowka, 'once the seat of an empire,' now sparsely populated by lonely people poking along empty corridors.
He agrees to tell the curious young writer about how he came to obtain this odd establishment. At which point we dive back in time again to 1932, when the hotel was at its peak of elegance--with war looming." — Anne Thompson, IndieWire.com
"While other filmmakers get their hands dirty in kitchen sinks, Wes Anderson surely slips his into luxury cashmere mittens. His films overflow with intricate detail and make no pretence of existing in a world other than their own, just-about-earthbound parallel universe.
So the five-star premises of his energetic new comedy 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' -- a wedding-cake-like, pastel-coloured establishment situated somewhere in 1930s Mitteleuropa and peopled by eccentrics and lunatics -- feel like business as usual. What's different, though, is that the film's shaggy-dog, sort-of-whodunit yarn offers laughs and energy that make this Anderson's most fun film since 'Rushmore.'" — Dave Calhoun, Time Out London
The Fiennes Point
"One of the many surprises in Wes Anderson's rich, layered and quirkily entertaining new film, 'The Grand Budapest Hotel,' is the emergence of a new comic actor, one with impeccable timing and just the right mix of gravitas and utter zaniness. Ladies and gents, meet Ralph Fiennes.
You might not immediately think the man who played the tragic count in 'The English Patient,' an evil war criminal in 'Schindler's List,' a violent Coriolanus, and oh yes, Voldemort, would be a natural in comedy. But he proves a deft, daft partner to Anderson in this, their first collaboration. ... His stylized, rapid-fire delivery, dry wit and cheerful profanity keep the movie bubbling along. Here's to further Fiennes-Anderson collaborations." — Jocelyn Noveck, Associated Press
The Serious Surprise
"Yet while the film is fun, fun, fun for the majority of the its run-time, the real brilliance of 'The Grand Budapest Hotel' is the way in which Anderson's script underpins the madness and joy with a subtle sense of sadness and melancholy. It may be an imaginary country, but the very real threat of Fascism and Communism hangs over Zubrowka throughout the film, with the misery and tragedy that the approaching war will bring to these characters giving the film an unexpectedly serious edge." — Chris Tilly, IGN Movies
The Final Word
"Unusually, the wilder the story gets, the funnier and more enchanting it is. And unlike Anderson's recent run of films ('Moonrise Kingdom,' 'The Darjeeling Limited' and 'The Life Aquatic') he doesn't try too hard to yank on the heartstrings, instead celebrating the art of spinning a good yarn. The result is a rich tapestry that'll whisk you away to another world completely - one you'll want to come back to." — Stella Papamichael, Digital Spy
"The Grand Budapest Hotel" is open now in select theaters.