Brody, Willem Dafoe, F. Murray Abraham, Edward Norton,
Direction: Wes Anderson
Duration: 1 hour 36 minutes
Story: As murder, fascism and war surround,
can Gustave and his iconic hotel survive?
Review: Wes Anderson is Hollywood’s Lewis Carroll – and The Grand Budapest Hotel is his Wonderland. Set in the imaginary Eastern European republic of Zubrowska, in the delicately hysterical years between two World Wars, the Grand Budapest Hotel is a lacy handkerchief of nostalgia, a naughty piece of silky lingerie – and a dagger soaked in blood.
Monsieur Gustave (Fiennes) is the supremely stylish concierge of the Grand Budapest who watches the 1930s hotel’s luxuries “like a hawk with a horsewhip”, frequently delighting its rich ladies with room service in bed. His wide-eyed lobby boy Zero Mustafa (Revolori, later Abraham) shadows Gustave with adoring admiration – even when Gustave’s imprisoned, accused of murdering millionaire Madame D. (Tilda Swinton) by her son Dmitry (a deliciously dark Brody) who unleashes his feudal Frankenstein Jopling (chilling Dafoe) on a trail of chopped fingers, sawn-off heads and a thrilling ski chase. Framed by Dmitry and pursued by Fascists, can Gustave, Zero and the Grand Budapest Hotel survive?
Anderson is famous for his richly picturesque films and TGBH reaffirms this. Every scene is like a painting come alive, some characters straight out of Edvard Munch, scenes – slender lanes that twist archly as they draw you into their misty embrace – like a Van Gogh with people walking within. Alongside, the humour – don’t miss the ‘Kunts Museum’ – is trademark Anderson, ironic, witty, Martini-dry.
Ralph Fiennes is perfect as Gustave of the silken manners, large heart and bedroom eyes, while Revolori is a revelation as poignantly pure Zero, with only Gustave and Agatha (Ronan), his baker girlfriend, to call his own.
Alongside, several cameos – Jude Law as a pipe-chomping writer suffering ‘Scribe’s Fever’, Bill Murray from a stewards’ society that channels Wodehouse, Jeff Goldblum as a monochrome lawyer, golden-haired Owen Wilson as ‘Monsieur Chuck’ – divertingly tease. But it is the story of the Grand Budapest that stars, for this is an ode to an age of beauty and brutality, velvet and crystal, puddings and pomade, based on ‘the Bureau of Labour and Servitude’ – which discards its diamonds and puts on its war boots.
This whimsical tale oozes charm while brisk editing lets you enjoy – but not be overwhelmed by – cakes like mountains and mountains like cakes, chandeliers, perfumed men and Persian pussies. Hitchcock, Rembrandt and Orwell are some of the guests at The Grand Budapest Hotel. If you like them, you will like this Wonderland.