Take a decidedly quirky comedy converging around a purloined painting, sprinkle in some Hollywood talent, and you have yourself an intriguing premise. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a delightfully charming piece, following the misadventures of concierge Gustave and his newly found lobby boy protégé Zero. As the viewer is taken through a stylised 1930s pseudo-Hungary, the many larger than life characters (usually played by well know faces) make the film a joy to watch. The series of curious events that unfold in the already eccentric world take the film to many exciting, and always funny, places.
The story is told through a young woman in the present day reading an autobiographical novel (The Grand Budapest Hotel) about the author in 1968, who in turn is listening to an enigmatic man’s story about his childhood in the 1930s. While seeming strange in concept, the switching between eras combined with narration from the future is utilised to produce a captivating storytelling experience. The film manages to punctuate this storytelling technique and usual frivolities with surprising touches of black humour, creating a refreshing juxtaposition.
Although the acting is superb throughout, many roles are little more than cameos from the impressive cast, with the actor’s familiarity to audience ultimately being distracting. In this strange Republic of Zubrowka however, who’s to say that isn’t the desired intention?
4/5 – Excellent!
The idiosyncratic characters, locations and situations provoke a real fondness for the world Wes Anderson has composed. Although not always laugh out loud funny, the perpetual light-hearted tone and enticing plot make for a fun ride.