You are either a Wes Anderson fan or not. He is over stylised and emotions are often sterile, which is why I love him. Many use these exact reasons as to why they despise his cinematic offerings. A Wes Anderson film must had certain Andersonisms and be full of cameo turns from selected actors. The Grand Budapest Hotel has these in spades.
The whole film is a farce filled with delightful eccentricity. From the beginning we know we are in for a kooky ride when the old writer, earnestly talking to the camera, is shot by a child with a plastic gun. We flash back to see the writer as a young man (acted with wonderful economy by Jude Law) curing his writer’s block at The Grand Budapest Hotel. The writer meets the current owner and former bell-boy Zero. Zero decides over a long dinner to tell the writer an extraordinary tale.
The story centres on the last concierge of the Grand Budapest before the war, M.Gustave(played exquisitely by Ralph Fiennes). It involves murder, ridicule, jail, snow, old, young, rich, and art. Drenched in his L’Air de Panache(which one imagine smells like a tarts boudoir filled with flowers) he runs the hotel as if was his own. Gustave is meticulous and looks after his elderly guests every need, rather often their most intimate desires…
Eventually one of the numerous dowagers he entertains dies, leaving Gustave a priceless painting which really gets the family’s backs up. The film shifts from a whimsical study on an oddball hotel to a fugitive caper, with a side helping of a love story. Willem de Foe, having far too much fun, plays a henchman with bloodcurdling menace. He possesses a wonderful leather jacket, which includes a pocket with a built-in hip flask and revolver holder- perhaps Barbour should look into this for their new range?
Watching this film you realise that the actors are at the complete mercy of the director, the movie is as detailed in it’s choreography as a West End show. Each shot is constructed in a deliberately stilted manner; no prop or lingering view unnecessary. The film roars to a slightly unconcealed conclusion via a ridiculous Mexican standoff, whilst a host of major film stars jostle for recognition in camp cameos (O.Wilson particularly memorable)
The undoubted star of the movie is Ralph Fiennes. He shows, a previously unheralded, comedic skill. He owns every scene in the film, yet he does it without demonstrably dimming his co-stars turns. Fiennes’s performance has a light glow of optimism, which is often missing in melancholic Anderson hits such as The Royal Tenenbaums. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I spent a lot of it laughing wryly and wondering at the splendid scenery of this unique world. There are pitfalls and reasons not to like The Grand Budapest Hotel but I would have reservations about a soul who didn’t find it greatly enjoyable.