Sunday, 4 October 2015

New Film review - The Grand Budapest Hotel

I confess first of all to being a little obsessed with this film. I watched it for the first time, and really enjoyed it. Then I watched it a second time, then a third and it became one of my all time favourite films.

Now with that sort of introduction, I guess this now has a lot to live up huh? Well let me tell you more about it then you can make up your own mind can't you. Here we go then.

The Grand Budapest Hotel stars Ralph Fiennes on his finest form. Released in 2014, this is a dark comedy directed by Wes Anderson. It won a whole heap of accolades and nominations including BAFTAs, Golden Globes and the Academy Awards. Deservedly so too.

So what's it about? The story is told by Zero Moustafa played by Tony Revolori as he relays his memories to Jude Law, who plays a visitor to the hotel and is also a young author. Zero tells the author his story of the hotel, how he started life there as lobby boy, and about the legendary Gustave (Fiennes).

The Hotel was in the Republic of Zebrowka. In 1932, the hotel was in its finest hour - busy, packed with guests, of whom Gustave was a familiar in every sense of the word. Zero observed how he made every guest, male and female, most welcome!! He managed the hotel with panache and style, particularly keen to service the hotel's older female guests, all of whom were wealthy it might be added!

The plot begins when one of these guests, the elderly Madame D (Tilda Swinton) passes away. Gustave is distraught, and takes Zero to her wake, secretly hoping she may have left him something. She has - a painting of "Boy with Apple", worth a fortune!! However, her son, Dmitri (Adrian Brody) is a devious and greedy sort, and vows to not allow Gustave anything, so Zero and Gustave pinch it!

Unfortunately, Gustave is framed for the murder of Madame D, after Serge her butler is forced to point the finger. Fiennes is born for this role. Even when imprisoned with the lowest, hardest, meanest criminals, he is taken into their fold, and becomes part of an escape plan. Using Zero's girlfriend, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), whose relationship is played out so beautifully, she is able to sneak tools into the prison using her cake baking skills!!

They escape, and Gustave, freshly out of prison, is concerned that he smells. He asks for his Leau de panache scent, but Zero has forgotten it. He then pulls on the Society of Crossed Keys, in a bid to pursue his freedom and clear his name. The S of CK appears to be the various concierges of other similar hotels, and he gets leads to follow to find Serge. He finds Serge, but he is murdered before he can get him to talk!

In the meantime, Dmitri has killed off the lawyer (Jeff Goldblum) as well, and has also had the man's cat thrown out of the window!! But his assassin Jopling (Willem Dafoe) continues to come after Gustave, but Gustave gets the upper hand on the side of a snow covered mountain after Zero pushes him off the edge and rescues him!!

Back at the hotel, war has broken out, and the hotel has become a military base. Agatha and Zero sneak inside, along with Gustave using cakes as a decoy. They find the painting, but Dmitri is also there and gives chase to Agatha. As the painting hangs precariously from the balcony following the pursuit, they can see a document behind it. Its Madame D's mysteriously missing second will.

Once this is identified, the hotel and her wealth pass to Gustave - she left it all to him turning out to be the owner of the Grand Budapest!! Zero and Agatha get married, and Zero becomes the concierge taking Gustave's place as he parties!

This is not a happily after film though. Agatha and her infant son are revealed to have died from an illness 2 years later. Gustave himself, is shot by the very same soldiers that he and Zero encountered en route to the wake years earlier. Zero inherits the hotel and the money, but the hotel by the time the Author visits, is well into its decline.

Its former glory behind it, Zero tells how he does not want to let the hotel go but its clear the hotel is a relic of a time gone by. The author writes the story, and right at the beginning, we see a young girl reading the book. The film shows her again, and the story lives on.

So there is the plot. It may not sound all that appealing, so let me put some meat on the bones for you. The cast is amazing. I've already mentioned the main ones - Fiennes, Dafoe, Brody, Swinton, Ronan and Goldblum. But the film also has many lesser roles - Harvey Keitel as a prison inmate, Edward Norton as a Nazi Inspector, Bill Murray and Owen Wilson as part of the Crossed Keys network, and of course Jude Law as the author.

But its not just the roll-call that is impressive. What takes this film from intriguing, and clever, is the absolutely brilliant dialogue executed so beautifully and eloquently. Even when swearing or in prison, Fiennes absolutely oozes charisma and class.

This is a clever, charming, nostalgic and warm, funny, dark, witty and mesmerising film, which is a pleasure on the eye thanks to the cast and the setting, and more a pleasure to the ear with the finely tuned finesse of the English language used to perfection in this script.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is not a good film, it is a film that will stand the test of time as a classic and it is utterly brilliant. Forever on my Top 10 list this film. I could not more highly recommend it so what are you waiting for?

You can find all my film reviews over at My Film page on this blog - just click here.