Set in a pre-war hotel in central Europe, Wes Anderson’s all-star tragicomedy is the epitome of his directorial, artistic expressivity. As the concierge, M. Gustave H (Fiennes) ensures the hotel’s smooth running by satisfying his moneyed clients’ every single need, including some very personal ones, whilst inducting young Zero Moustafa (Revolori) into the niceties of lobby-boy duties. When a seasonal guest Madame D. (Swinton) bequeaths a treasured painting to Gustave after her mysterious death, Gustave and Zero embark upon an extraordinary adventure, from a prison cell to a monastery and skiing resort. As their journey twirls and bounces, encounters with a series of quirky characters add spice to their progress.
Anderson’s droll wit is enhanced by impeccable performance from long-term and more recent collaborators. The mise-en-scène is so ingeniously designed that every device can open up an escape route. We are indulged in a feast of colours, bathing in sumptuous red, velvety purple, youthful pink, snowy white and more. It is a beautifully light-hearted film which simultaneously evokes a fairyland and old-timey charm – when elegance, as well as body fragrance, counted for more than life.
The Grand Budapest Hotel | Directed by Wes Anderson (UK, Germany 2014) with Ralph Fiennes, Tony Revolori, F. Murray Abraham, Adrian Brody and Tilda Swinton. Starts March 6
Originally published in issue #125, March 2014.