A Review of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Directed by Wes Anderson
I could praise it forever, but this will be short and sweet, because I have no desire to spoil the story of director Wes Anderson's latest masterpiece. We laughed and laughed and laughed. The darling of American Indie has done it again. It is absolutely brilliant, a wildly intelligent fairytale for grown ups - especially those with a taste for verse. A feather-light comedy with a difference. It lures you in with its all-star cast of Ralph Fiennes, Tilda Swinton, Jude Law, Lea Seydoux and Edward Norton, but it does not need to. In fact, every element of the film is so aesthetically pleasing, it would probably do just as well without any characters at all. Nevertheless, it is a delightfully witty, deliciously indulgent murder mystery with an edge. Set in a magical, luxury hotel on a snowy mountain in fictional Zubrowka, we are swept up into a colourful whirlwind of fun and debauchery with Ralph Fiennes - in his purple uniform - as our guide.
Described by The Guardian as a 'Cathedral of Eccentricity', this hotel could not be a more dazzling setting for this whimsical tale of art theft and murder. From the crumbling 'spa' where Jude Law bathes in his spectacles to the canyon of a ghastly red dining room, every piece of set is fits perfectly. Juxtaposed with the intense attention to detail throughout the film is the bizarre decision of the director to have every character speak in their natural accent. From Indian to Irish, Russian to American, this bizarre infusion only adds to its eccentricity - as does the random use of profanities interrupting eloquent verse.
I must get back to the marvellous set. When we are swept into the Patisserie kitchen your mouth truly waters at the sight of the delicate fancies, which are later revealed to be concealing violent tools used for a quick dash from a ghastly prison.
The opulent array of costumes grows more fabulous with every scene as the kitsch maid's costumes contrast the purple suit of the lobby boy and the black leather of the sadistic murderer. With a sexual appetite for elderly women dripping in rubies and a passion for discipline as a concierge, the blissfully camp protagonist Gustave H. takes us on an adventure like no other as he sets out to steal his beloved artwork Boy with Apple from a family of horrifyingly violent crooks.
Wes and his cinematographer contrived the characteristic rectilinear camera movements with extraordinary precision and you arrive in every scene as if you'd just received the invitation. Our favourite scene was Gustave's wildly unrealistic escape from prison, which begins with the breaking of iced biscuits and ends with the audience feeling as if they are being twirled on a roller coaster during an accelerated ski chase from a monastery to the edge of a cliff of ice.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is the perfect blend of strange friendships, flourishing romance, subtle humour and violent crime - this film is not one to miss. In reference to the magnificent Gustave H., it ends with the enchanting line, 'his world had ended long before he entered it. He sustained the illusion with a marvellous grace".
Written by Flora Alexandra Ogilvy, founder of Arteviste.com