Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Grand Hotel

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) is not really a Grand Hotel story - the intertwining stories of the strangers who come together in a busy place. It is the story of an author, who meets a rich old man, who tells him the story of M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes), concierge of the titular hotel.

The hotel is located in a mythical Eastern European country, in a mythical time between the wars. M. Gustav keeps it running smoothly, taking a special interest in dear old ladies. He takes a lobby boy under his wing, a young stateless orphan called Zero, played by Tony Revolori. Their orderly world is disrupted by geopolitics, as armies and unrest sweep through the region. Gustav takes it all in stride, even going to prison with elan - having his favorite cakes delivered from the best bakery. Of course, the baker's girl is Zero's betrothed, the lovely Saoirse Ronan with a birthmark in the shape of Mexico on her face.

Many more strange and wonderful things occur, there is humor and pathos, plus flashbacks-within-flashbacks 3 or 4 levels deep. But like so many Wes Anderson movies, it is mostly about its oddball characters, in this case M. Gustave, and about beautiful sets designs, like the Grand Budapest, seen in its glory days, and post-Soviet dilapidation. Between M. Gustave and his hotel, we may dream of a sweet lost age of sophistication and culture. A time, a character admits, that may never have existed.

As usual with Wes Anderson, there is really too much here to get into, but if you like his movies, you'll be sure to like this one. If you don't, you probably won't - might be a little precious and artificial for some. If you haven't seen any, this is a good place to start.


mr. schprock said...

I didn't see this movie all that long ago, and I remember loving it, and it makes me sad to realize that I've forgotten nearly everything in so short a span of time. I don't recall many of the details in your post. I can't even remember what character Bill Murray played in this one. Mental note: see it again. Another mental note: write down the first mental note.

Beveridge D. Spenser said...

Bill Murray just had a bit part as one of the League of Concierges, or whatever that secret organization was called. Most of those guys were cameos.