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Movie tip: "The Grand Budapest Hotel"

Published April 10. 2014 4:00AM

This film is idionsyncratic, even by Wes Anderson standards. If the writer-director's last film, "Moonrise Kingdom," toyed with a more sentimental tone, "Budapest" keys up as a wild, farce-edged ride. It's set in a fictional country just before a world war (with intentional echoes of pre-WWII), and a grand old hotel is experiencing its last gasp of glory. Ralph Fiennes preens with vanity and fawning charm as the hotel concierge who romances elderly woman - one of whom leaves him a priceless work of art, a move that mightily upsets her descendants. The familial drama churns into elaborate chase scenes (oh, the multiple scenes of characters scurrying up staircases!) and an amazing jailbreak. Anderson fills the screen with embellished, dollhouse-like sets and carefully constructed shots. It's a visual wonder, from the ornateness of the hotel to an amusingly cartoony high-speed sled race. But the real power player is Fiennes, who gives a magnetic, hilarious performance. He masters the fast-paced, 1940s-style dialogue delivery, imbuing everything with great wit. The movie misses him whenever he's offscreen.

- KRISTINA DORSEY

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