2014/ USA, Germany, UK
Director: Wes Anderson
Words: R. Topham
“You see, there are still faint glimmers of civilisation left in this barbaric slaughterhouse that was once known as humanity.” – M. Gustave, the voice of pessimists everywhere. Possibly Wes Anderson’s most aesthetically pleasing film to date, The Grand Budapest Hotel is a delightfully entertaining and slightly surreal cinematic gem that was such a hit with the public and critics that it’s since been immortalised as a video game.
Gustave, played spectacularly by Ralph Fiennes, is a legendary concierge at skiing resort The Grand Budapest Hotel during the 1930’s when he is framed for the murder of a beloved guest. The latter bequeaths Gustave a very valuable painting in her will, Boy with Apple, much to the dismay of her children. Gustave and recently appointed lobby boy Zero embark on a quest to prove Gustave’s innocence, encountering all kinds of surprises along the way, from a prison cell to The Society of the Crossed Keys.
It’s a kind of facetious modern twist on a period drama, but it works because the cheeky humour and the sheer ridiculousness of the quick-fire protagonist perfectly compliment the casually chaotic narrative. Much like previous classics such as Moonrise Kingdom and Rushmore, what Wes Anderson did with The Grand Budapest Hotel was interweave wit, style and fun in the most charmingly ostentatious way imaginable. It’s evidently an explosion of Anderson’s psyche, and, with the help of trusty cinematographer Robert Yeoman, it’s an hour and forty minutes of pure brilliance.
And of course a multitude of Anderson’s go-to actors have cameos: Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Jeff Goldblum, Jason Schwartzmen, Adrien Brody, Willem Dafoe – you get the idea. Plus Tilda Swinton, barely recognisable beneath a heavy costume of wrinkles and grey hair, plays Gustave’s ill-fated 84 year old lover and nails it. A great cast, an impeccably written script, Academy Award winning make-up and costume design, all the ingredients for a thoroughly enjoyable film.