The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

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"How's about that then, boys and girls?"
“How’s about that then, boys and girls?”

Twitter Plot Summary: Following the adventures of Gustave H, concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel and his trusted lobby boy Zero Moustafa.

Five Point Summary:

1. Jude Law!
2. Edward Norton!
3. Jeff Goldblum!
4. Harvey Keitel!
5. Bill Murray!

The cast list for Wes Anderson’s latest should be a clear indication as to the quality of filmmaking on show here. It almost seems as though literally everybody who’s ever worked with Anderson in the past shows up in either a cameo or slightly more substantive appearance, which gives it an additional level of charm and appeal for those who are maybe not aware of Anderson’s previous works. Fan of Jeff Goldblum and his hand acting? Then he plays the executor of Madame D’s will. Bill Murray more your thing? He’s another hotel concierge in a typically brilliant cameo. Harvey Keitel? He shows up without any hair. The list goes on.

Taking all the lessons learned from his previous films, most notably it seems from Fantastic Mr Fox, Anderson has thrown everything into The Grand Budapest Hotel resulting in a zany, madcap and off the wall caper. Amongst the many appeals that this film has are miniatures, surrealism, silly gags, visual humour and a standout comic performance from Ralph Fiennes – who knew that the man who played Voldemort and Amon Goeth had it in him?

Fiennes is Gustave H, the concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel. Renowned for his love of the older ladies and his cologne of choice, L’Air de Panache. When one of his conquests dies and leaves him a valuable painting in her will, Boy With Apple, it sets off a chain of events that lead to a prison stint and a manhunt from two sides – the one of the law led by Edward Norton, and one led by Adrien Brody and his sinister goon played by Willem Dafoe. All of this takes place in a fictional eastern European country, ostensibly set between the two world wars.

Gustave is joined by Zero Moustafa, a new lobby boy at the Grand Budapest, and it’s the friendship between these two unlikely figures on which the narrative rests. Bearing in mind the significant age gap between the pair, it’s amazing that it works as well as it does. Both are fully realised in terms of their likes, needs and ambitions, and without their strong bond I think the narrative would fall apart quite quickly.

Lovely tache, your Brodyness.
Lovely tache, your Brodyness.

Anderson is no stranger to doing things a little differently to his mainstream brethren, and perhaps one of the more subtle points to note from The Grand Budapest Hotel is the changing aspect ratio of the footage – depending on which era we’re seeing, the aspect ratio is amended accordingly to 1.33, 1.85 and 2.35:1 accordingly.

There are a couple of elements that don’t live up to expectation, in particular the relationship between Zero and Saoirse Ronan’s Agatha, or even the fact the framing device for the central narrative has three levels to it, but these are ultimately minor quibbles in light of the rest of the film. Put simply it’s a delight, balancing gently comedic moments with some occasionally harsh tonal shifts into darkness and melancholy. The fact Anderson manages to balance these so deftly is reason enough alone to book a night at The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Score: 5/5

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