Ever since I first saw The Grand Budapest Hotel I have been banging on about it to anyone who will listen. I have made it abundantly clear that it is my favourite film of the last few years, and I think it is oh so utterly marvellous in every single way. So it’s probably about time I pulled my finger out and actually reviewed it properly.
Recently at the Oscars, The Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman led the way with nine nominations each. Sometimes this can be seen as a film being a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-nothing type offering, but not with The Grand Budapest: as it excels in just about every department it was nominated in and more. But as the Oscars are orientated in a certain way it came away with mostly technical awards, which was of little surprise as it is visually beautiful.
Certain films will always stay with you, simply by the way they look. There is perhaps no film more vivid in its use of colour than comic book caper Dick Tracy: which use of neon colours made it look like pages of the comic were trying to leap from the screen. Or on the other end of the spectrum, who can forget the red-coated girl in the black and white Schindler’s List?
The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of these films, and is full of pinks, reds and purples. But while the Grand Budapest shares certain cartoonish similarities with Dick Tracy, it uses this element to fantastic comic effect. At times the use of illustration is reminiscent of Monty Python, and by embracing such qualities whole heartedly, it makes you fall completely in love.
Leading the way in this all-star romp is the mesmerising Ralph Fiennes, who has proved once again what a brilliant comedic actor he can be. This time round he’s not shouting YOU’RE AN INANIMATE FUCKING OBJECT at his wife, as he does so well in, In Bruges: but playing the instantly lovable and sophisticated concierge at the Grand Budapest Hotel, Monsieur Gustave. Gustave is a frolicking and energetic character, with a fine sense of flamboyance, and obsession with L’Air De Panache. Gustave takes Zero (Tony Revolori) under his tutelage, training him to be the lobby boy at The Grand Budapest, and surely ranks amongst Fiennes best performances.
The ridiculousness of the humour and lavishness of the set however, is set against a dark plot of conspiracy and murder. As Dmitri (Adrien Brody) unleashes his thug Jopling (Willem Dafoe) to attend matters that have conspired against them, events twist and turn around the renowned “boy with apple” painting. Jopling is both malevolent and cartoonish: one scene in particular will take you completely by surprise and really is very funny.
And, not only this, but who is the lawyer responsible for the deceased estate? Jeff Goldblum! In his only performance of the decade! (That is not official: Jeff Goldblum is simply a product of the ‘90s. To my knowledge Friends was his only appearance in the 2000s and Grand Budapest is therefore surely his 2010s – other than Top Gear.) On top of this it also has cameo appearances from Bill Murray, Jude Law, Harvey Keitel, Owen Wilson, and Edward Norton.
As you can see then The Grand Budapest Hotel truly does have it all. It takes what was for some, the inter-war glamour, and casts it under a completely original light. Gustave represents the old values: decency, valour and kindness. He refuses to be intimidated despite being the least bit intimidating himself, and is almost unfaltering in his abilities to see the best in everyone. We are told by Zero that “his world had vanished long before he even entered it.” Yet Monsieur Gustave is one of those timeless characters that could be dropped into the world at any period in history and would still capture our hearts and imaginations.
And if all that doesn’t float your boat, The Grand Budapest still contains a hotel shootout, a prison escape, and numerous chase sequences, including a particularly memorable ski chase. Wes Anderson really has pulled out all the stops in directing one of the most complete and absorbing of cinematic creations. Birdman is a very good film, but for the sheer ambition and almost faultless execution of the script, along with a few classic characters to boot, I really did think Wes Anderson should have won Best Original Screenplay.
If The Grand Budapest Hotel is up your alley, once you’ve seen it, nothing else will suffice when you’re in the mood. There really is nothing else quite like it.
If anything it is like one of the fabulous multi-layered cream cakes, made by Zero’s girlfriend Agatha: it is beautiful, gorgeous, and oozing with a seductive prowess. It is a temptress that you know once you’ve taken the first bite, you will gorge to your heart’s content.