Elegantly zany and equipped with a cast even finer than a five star suite, Glasgow Film Festival opener The Grand Budapest Hotel from Wes Anderson develops into a wonderful caper. Review by Jamie Brotherston
The said hotel, stuck atop a glacial summit like a Terry Gilliam animation, serves as the nucleus, with a customarily dapper Jude Law in residence during the establishment’s less affluent years. Once a bastion of Luxury, the Grand Budapest has now descended into disrepair, but a meeting with the mysterious owner Mr. Moustafa (F. Murray Abraham) unveils the history behind the place – a story of bellhops, war, love for the “most flavoursome” (in other words, women in their eighties or older) and murder most foul.
Flitting from present to past like a waiter changing courses, the story allows concierge-extraordinaire, M. Gustave H. (Ralph Fiennes) to take the lead in what is amongst the best performances of his career. A perfect blend of Imperial manners and charm, definite madness and an exquisite potty mouth, M. Gustave steals the show.
After one of his elderly suitors kicks the bucket, bequeathing him a priceless painting much to the chagrin of her raptorial family (fronted by Adrian Brody and dementedly hammered home by Willem Dafoe) he finds himself very much in the thick of a twisted plot.
Dragged along for the ride is Zero, Gustave’s lobby-boy in training, who is played by newcomer Tony Revolori, displaying excellent comedic timing to counter Fienne’s scattergun performance. Also lending their weight to the staggering ensemble are Tom Wilkinson, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Saoirse Ronan, Harvey Keitel, Léa Sedoux, Tilda Swinton and, pausing for breath, Jeff Goldblum, who suffers the most unceremonious end to his active involvement in a movie since he was knocked for six by a T.Rex in Jurassic Park.
After being accused of the old lady’s murder, Gustave embarks on a journey full of antics that is a perfect blend of Python-esque absurdity and Germanic abruptness. In true Wes Anderson-style fashion, he makes a daring escape attempt from a jail encircled by a crocodile infested moat, recites poetry perched on top of a precarious mountain peak and is twice molested by soldiers on a train whilst drinking champagne in pursuit of proving his innocence. Zero of course, is along for the lot.
This film is, for want of a better phrase, an absolute scream from start to finish, a classic comedy-drama with an alpine backdrop to match. Whilst it is never certain where exactly this movie is headed, or what to expect next, one thing is clear: you will most definitely enjoy your stay at The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The Grand Budapest Hotel screens at Glasgow Film Theatre on Thu 20 Feb, 7.30pm and Fri 21 Feb, 3.45pm; more info
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