Review: The Grand Budapest Hotel

“There’s really no point doing anything in life because, in the blink of an eye, it’s all over.”

The Grand Budapest Hotel brings more to the table than just farcical, deadpan comedy – something which regulars in nearly every Anderson film. Far beneath the artistic rambunctiousness are a solid set of morals that slot themselves behind the charm and sheer beauty that manifests itself on the surface. It is these fine qualities that show this film out to be a welcome dose of authenticity, not only perpetuating Wes’ own vision, but introducing fresh ideas that bring to the screen a notable sense of vibrancy.

grand budapest 2The plot is characterised by an unrealistic stream of events; Anderson creates an almost fairy-tale world of whimsical enchantment, set in a dreamy, fictional Alpine state in the 1930s. Ralph Fiennes uniquely adopts the role of Gustave, concierge at The Grand Budapest Hotel, who – following a series of recognised liaisons with old age pensioners – involves himself in what can only be described as a scandalous affair.

Gustave soon develops a spontaneous friendship with his lobby boy and protégé, Zero, who actually narrates through the film as an older man. Time shifts are thus central to the narrative, but not nearly as important as the endearing relationship formed by these two unlikely hotel staff members.

Not fanciful enough? Throw into the mix a healthy dose of mystery, thriller and genuine laugh-out-loud gallows humour that, though detracting from a typical Wes style, introduces an air of cinematic charisma.

Anderson reminds us that this is no ready-to-wear motion-picture with his attention to a plethora of poignant mise-en-scène. swinton 2Vibrant and distinctive colours define key features of the setting, coupled with camera shots and angles that are anything but scant and a cast so physically breath-taking it becomes biologically impossible to take it all in. Bill Murray for instance makes a grand appearance towards the latter end of the film (and he isn’t even playing himself this time! Shocker), acting alongside the likes of Jeff Goldblum (this time without the buzzing sound) and Tilda Swinton (masked as a crazy, bride of Frankenstein-looking cougar lady).

These cameos may be only few and far between, but the same cannot be said for Anderson’s attention to satire by placing it at the very center of the film. Comedy takes flight from the outset, memorable at particular crazed moments; the escape scene which sees Gustave forming an alliance with a set of hard-core convicts and escaping incarceration in a very Pythonesque manner, followed by an absurd and intentionally low-budget ski scene which would benefit from a 1940’s chase extravaganza, are all brilliant examples of first-rate satiric hilarity. It’s comedy gold.

After all the cameos have been shown and Owen Wilson finally gets to do that ‘Hi, I’m Owen Wilson, and I’m in this Wes Anderson film too’ thing, the film finishes off in a rather metamorphic fashion that we, as fans of the director, can relate too. Though all the characters soon triumph over adversity and justice seems as though it has been made, tragedy quickly follows, much like Dignan’s prison sentence in Bottle Rocket. Like much of his work, Anderson ends off by evoking pity within the audience, leaving limited room for hope but not enough to quell the possibility of overcoming tragedy. Crudely artistic and endlessly entertaining, this film is an instant classic. Anderson’s finest work to date.

City Screen will be showing screenings of this film from Friday 7th March so be sure to grab your tickets ASAP. To tempt you even further, there’s a FREE Jameson and Ginger Ale on offer to all ticket holders who view the film this weekend. It’s almost too good to be true, wouldn’t you say? For more info, check out the website: