The Grand Budapest Hotel (M)

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The ViewAuckland Review

Review byMatthew Turner27/02/2014

Five out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Brilliantly directed and beautifully conceived, this is an absolute treat from start to finish, thanks to a delightful script, delicious dialogue, gorgeous production design work, a superb score, vividly created characters and wonderful comic performances from Ralph Fiennes and a note-perfect support cast.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel is inspired by the stories by Stefan Zweig and stars Ralph Fiennes as legendary concierge Gustave M, who works at The Grand Budapest Hotel, located in fictitious Zubrowka, in the period between the wars. Given to providing "comfort" to wealthy countess types, Gustave finds himself in hot water when elderly lover Madame D (Tilda Swinton) dies in mysterious circumstances, leaving him a painting (Boy With Apple) in her will that's worth a small fortune.

When Madame D's enraged son Dmitri (Adrien Brody) frames him for murder, Gustave finds himself in prison, so he conceives an escape plan, aided by his loyal lobby boy Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori) and his baker girlfriend Agatha (Saoirse Ronan). Meanwhile, Dmitri's vicious henchman Jopling (Willem Dafoe) is on the trail of the painting and will stop at nothing to get it back.

The Good
Ralph Fiennes is wonderful as Gustave, displaying a hitherto unsuspected comic lightness that is utterly delightful to watch, whether he's flirting (with both men and women), treating everyone (except fascist train guards) with unfailing politeness or, somewhat incongruously, letting fly with the occasional spot of bad language.

The supporting cast (most of whom are regular Anderson bit-players) are equally good, particularly newcomer Revolori as Zero, Willem Dafoe (genuinely chilling) as Jobling, Jeff Goldblum as the fastidious executor of Madame D's estate, Harvey Keitel as a bald prisoner who helps Gustave escape and a heavily made up and startled-looking Tilda Swinton as Madame D, while Jude Law is effective as the younger version of the author (Tom Wilkinson) who's hearing the story first-hand from a much older Zero (F Murray Abraham).

The Great
Anderson keeps the story moving at a suitably breathless pace and the script is packed with delicious dialogue; it also maintains an assured balance between humour (it's often laugh-out-loud funny), shocking moments, uncharacteristic violence and a tinge of melancholy befitting the devastation that is soon to befall central Europe (Gustave's train encounters with the guards have a certain ominous foreboding to them).

Needless to say, the film looks jaw-droppingly beautiful throughout, thanks to Adam Stockhausen's stunning production design work, some gorgeously hand-crafted animated inserts, and Anderson's meticulous attention to detail, which is certain to reward repeated viewings. There's also a fabulous score by Alexandre Desplat that combines several Eastern European instruments in appropriate fashion and will have you humming vaguely Cossacky tunes afterwards.

Worth seeing?
Beautifully designed, laugh-out-loud funny and utterly charming, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a hugely entertaining comedy with a wonderful script and delightful comic performances. Unmissable and one of the best films of the year.

Film Trailer

The Grand Budapest Hotel (M)
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Content updated: 20/07/2019 21:02

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