After hearing so many good things about The Grand Budapest Hotel, I finally saw it. Knowing that the movie is highly acclaimed has several effects on me – I came with a healthier dose of cynicism, in case the movie fell short of my expectation (I still haven’t forgotten how disappointed I was with Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives). On the other hand, I was also on guard to ensure that if I liked the movie, it wasn’t due to the wisdom of crowds but because I genuinely liked it.
Well, I loved watching the movie and it has made me intrigued into watching other Wes Anderson’s movies. The Grand Budapest Hotel combines what I love from international movies with the familiarity of English. The way Wes Anderson presents the narration and the playful, witty and exuberant method in which the story is presented are marvellous. Quality story-telling still exists in American movie industry after all!
The movie tells a story of Zero Moustafa (Tony Revolori and F. Murray Abraham) and how he inherits a grand hotel (the namesake of the movie) in the fictitious Republic of Zubrowka. Zero was the former lobby boy in the hotel who came under the tutelage of an enigmatic concierge – M. Gustave H (Ralph Fiennes). We learn about Gustave H.’s “extra curricular” activities with the older guests – one of which is Madame Céline Villeneuve Desgoffe-und-Taxis (Tilda Swinton). Upon her unexpected death, Gustave comes under suspicion by the police – having spent the previous night at her mansion. This causes another issue when Madame D (as she is known) also bequeaths a valuable painting called “Boy with Apple” to him. Dmitri Desgoffe-und-Taxis (Adrien Brody) with his henchman Jopling (Willem Dafoe) frame Gustave for the murder, and also eliminate witnesses and other who suspect something sinister in the situation. Gustave has to rely on Zero’s assistance and loyalty in clearing his name …
The Grand Budapest Hotel is like an afternoon spent reading a great engrossing novel, and if you have a background knowledge of the history of Europe, you would also recognise elements of history in the fiction. The number of highly acclaimed actors in the movie and the surreal and fantasy-like imageries are a bonus (you can play spot-the-celebrity as your second viewing, perhaps). I wish I had seen this movie earlier as it would have certainly made it to my Top5 for 2014! Let’s see how this movie stacks up at the end of 2015!
PS: To relive the magic, have a look at the film website!