A show-box of dreamlike originality
Wes Anderson’s new film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is as colorful and intriguing as its poster. The cast is a mix of familiar faces, such as Tilda Swinton and Ralph Fiennes, and fresh faces, like newcomer Tony Revolori. Wether they are familiar or not, it is a delight to watch the actors play with their parts – with Ralph Fiennes in one of his greatest parts to date.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is about (you guessed right!) the Grand Budapest Hotel, a pink guest house on the top of a mountain somewhere in Europe in the 1930’s – the guests actually have to travel with a mount-elevator to the hotel. The film zooms in on the colorful characters who stay, work and live at the Grand Budapest, centering around eccentric concierge Gustave H. and his lobby-boy, Zero. When a well respected guest and very dear friend of Gustave H. mysteriously dies, a Renaissance-painting is left to the concierge, although the relatives of the deceased are not too happy about this. When Gustave H. decides to steal the painting, the adventures of the concierge and the lobby-boy begins.
This film is like a children’s show-box of dreamlike originality. The visuals, recognizably Anderson’s, are stunning. The characters move like little paper-figures through the story, sometimes dancing the line of absurdity and reality. The pink of the hotel matches the story: it is a sweet, fun and interesting ride. It has got humor, it has got originality, it has got the mystery – it has got everything to write a good review about. The sweetness of the story and the visuals, together with the nostalgic flavor on top, makes a delightful surprise.
Ralph Fiennes is radiant as the eccentric Gustave H. The actor takes his character very seriously, tough you see that he has fun playing such an absurd figure. His voices matches the concierge perfectly: he loves big words and quickly spoken sentences – this, of course, makes for some unforgettable oneliners. For example, at one point in the film, Gustave H. is in prison and Zero pays him a visit. Former employer and employee sit across of each other, one with a black eye and one in his colorful working attire. When the lobby-asks the concierge what happened, he says:
“What happened, my dear Zero, is I beat the living shit out of a sniveling little runt called Pinky Bandinksi. You should take a long look at his ugly mug this morning. He’s actually become a dear friend.” – Gustave H., The Grand Budapest Hotel
It is unbelievable, but this one line pretty much sums up The Grand Budapest Hotel. For 99 minutes, Gustave H. speaks absurdities like the one above, runs Zero across Europe to save his concierge and in the meantime, Saoirse Ronans character bakes some pastries. The consistency of the film, together with the sudden bits of shock, keeps you on your toes. Just when you get used to the colorful sets, the brilliant characters and the comic soundtrack, you are yet surprised by fingers being chopped of by a door (closed by Willem Defoe, that is) or a decapitated head (not Saoirse Ronans head, that is).
You might find yourself wondering wether there was nothing “wrong” with The Grand Budapest Hotel. I will tell you, the only thing I disliked about this film, was that it is only 99 minutes.