If the auteur theory is ever to be proven or even debated in modern cinema then those debating would need to look no further than The Grand Budapest Hotel’s director Wes Anderson. Perhaps an acquired taste his work is nonetheless easily identifiable as quintessentially his. With his unique brand of comedy, kitsch design, practical effects and theatrical execution Anderson is a filmmaker it’s hard not to, if not love, then certainly admire with a slow nod of ‘well done old chap’. That last sentiment seems all the more pertinent for his latest opus The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Opening with a story within a story, narrated at first by Tom Wilkinson, then a younger version of himself in the form of Jude Law who is in turn listening to F. Murray Abraham we learn of the adventures of one M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes). Gustave is the head, and highly celebrated, concierge at the titular establishment. Taking new lobby boy Zero (Tony Revolori) under his wing the pair soon find themselves in a bit of a pickle. You see, it seems that Gustave has been left a priceless piece of art by a former guest at the hotel much to the annoyance of her son Dmitri (Adrien Brody). Cue hijinks and adventure as Gustave steals the painting, is arrested and embarks on a desperate quest, always aided by Zero, to clear his name and ensure the Will of his former guest, and lover, is properly executed.
Anderson’s world has always been filled with eccentric, outlandish and cartoonish characters but none more so than M. Gustave. It is not until you hear Fiennes’ almost Shakespearian delivery of Anderson’s words that you wonder how it has taken him so long to establish a British leading man up until this point. For, if anything, Anderson’s own eccentricities are classically British. That stiff upper lip in the face of adversity, the deadpan approach to a crisis and most of all the perfectly timed, but rarely used, profanity.
In order to put Gustave in as many fun situations as possible The Grand Budapest Hotel manages to conjure an art heist, murder mystery, jail break, love story, chase movie all wrapped in a story within a story. It’s breathless, allowing Anderson to use every trick in his self-penned book and as such is a complete delight.
In fact so breakneck and outrageously fun is The Grand Budapest Hotel it could very well be the film that opens him up to a wider audience. It’s mad-capped and insane in the best way possible. Throw in enough cameos to make Ron Burgundy blush and it’s impossible not to revel in the sheer madness of it all.
Fiennes is wonderful as Gustave; preened and proper, as only a man who takes pride in his job can be, he takes to the Andersonian world like a duck to water. He’s ably supported by Revolori as his trusted sidekick, always willing to put his head on the line for his boss knowing only too well he’d do the same in return. Brody is fun as the moustache twisting villain while Willem Dafoe brings a terrifying lupine quality to his almost silent henchman. Saoirse Ronan is on typically captivating, wide-eyed form as Zero’s squeeze and that’s all before you remember Edward Norton’s well-to-do army officer and Jeff Goldblum’s lawyer. The more you think about the cast the more memories of fleeting appearances come flooding back and you only wish you could have seen more of them.
With exemplary décor, top-notch service from cast and crew alike and breathless views, The Grand Budapest Hotel is well worth checking in to.