My latest trip to the cinema was to see the new Wes Anderson film The Grand Budapest Hotel, which had been on my must see list since the trailer was released (see the link at the bottom). It looked too quirky to pass up.
The story centres around a now all but empty, crumbling hotel in the fictional European Republic of Zubrowka, at which a young writer (Jude Law) hears all about the hotel’s history from its former lobby boy Mr Zero Moustafa. We are transported back in time to the 30s period when the hotel was as its best and a desirable destination for many and when everything was run to perfection by its concierge Gustave H (the wonderful Ralph Fiennes), whose role also includes keeping the many older wealthy ladies who stay there happy. New lobby boy Zero arrives and the two become close friends as they are thrown into a crazy adventure after one wealthy widow (an almost unrecognisable Tilda Swinton) dies and leaves a priceless painting to Gustave H, one that her family are determined to get back.
What follows is a rapid fire hi-jinks comic caper, covering everything from prison breaks, chases across snow-topped mountains, flying cats, to a secret society-style group of concierges across the continent and there is much to admire and enjoy. The hotel setting itself is gorgeous (can I stay there?) and I loved the scenery style shots that are intentionally designed to feel like you are looking at a picture, particularly the shots of the exterior hotel with the funicular car moving up the mountain towards it. It reminded me of something from a childhood pop up book and it completely suits the style of the film.
The dialogue whizzes by and Ralph Fiennes in particular is utterly brilliant in delivering the perfectly timed, witty, razor sharp dialogue of his quirky but ultimately caring Gustave H. There are so many stars in the film that it’s hard to highlight anyone more than the others, but I did particularly like Willem Defoe’s crazed assassin character, determined to retrieve his family’s painting at any cost. Saoirse Ronan is also lovely as the love of the young Zero’s life and newcomer Tony Revolori is wonderful as the young Zero and he and Fiennes make a hilarious duo. I did think the choice of casting for the older Zero was a bit odd, as the two actors did not resemble each other at all (my friend at first did’t realise they were actually the same character), but it didn’t really bother me and is a minor quibble.
It may prove to be too quirky for some but if you enjoy watching a film that allows you to escape reality and that will make you laugh then you should try and see this.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is on general release now in the UK. Link to the trailer below: