THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
Director: Wes Anderson
Cast: Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, Saoirse Ronan
Classification: 13 LN V
Running time: 99 minutes
Buoyant. Refreshing. Wistful. These are the feelings that flooded through me as I floated out of the film’s screening. Attempting to articulate just why I already found myself mentally relegating The Grand Budapest Hotel to my personal category of “Top 10 movies of all time” proved rather more difficult.
Perhaps it’s because the precise nature of the narrative is tricky to pinpoint: it unravels as a sort of matryoshka Russian doll se- quence of events, with each subplot revealing another beneath it, and another beneath that and another and so forth.
At its core, however, it details a slice of the life of Gustav H (Fiennes), concierge extraordinaire at the titular establish- ment during its between-World Wars zenith, and lobby boy Zero (Revolori), who becomes something of his unwitting protégé.
The catalyst for the story’s progression comes in the form of Madame D (a fantastically rendered cameo by Tilda Swinton), one of the many moneyed matriarchs who frequent the hotel as much for its old-world elegance and luxury services, now better suited to a bygone era, as for services of an altogether different kind offered by Monsieur G to his senior clientele.
Her sudden – and suspicious – death sets in motion a series of incidents fuelled by all and sundry’s ruthless rush to lay claim to her fortune (with her fascist son, engagingly portrayed by Adrien Brody in another of the countless cameos, leading the race).
What follows is a theatre-of-the-absurd-meets-comedy-of-errors madcap yarn that involves furtive fleeing, incarceration, escape and further clandestine flight, all set against the evolving political and social landscape (civic and personal) of that epoch.
Fiennes is faultless as the oh-so- posh, ever eager-to-please (even if only to serve his own agenda) hotel attendant with a blurred sexual orientation, and an equally obscure lineage. And with his Peter Sellers-like mock seriousness, 17-year-old Revolori (himself something of a dark horse) complements him perfectly.
Sadly, this whimsical account focused solely on the storyline rather than sex and special effects is likely to be lost on the majority of fickle modern audiences. But sophisticated viewers will relish this eccentric, if nostalgic, tale set against the backdrop of a time marked by an appreciation for artistic thought and social niceties and which serves as a testimonial to the pursuit of a cultured existence.
If you liked Life is Beautiful this film will certainly prove to be your cup of tea.