What I specifically like about Wes Anderson films is that they possess a certain uniqueness with both storytelling and detail. With the Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson has found yet another way to show his fans how dazzling, how annoyingly perfect his work really is.
Of course there is always the challenge for newcomers to his style of film-making, much like the audience at the local cinema where I watched it. There eyes could easily drift away from the screen as soon as they seat themselves, mainly because his style of humour is so ‘different’. Nevertheless The Grand Budapest still packs all that ‘fun-fun’ factor that Anderson fans are so used too.
The film opens with three prologues, each explaining a different aspect of the story that brings us back to the present. We are introduced to the story’s prime character, a famous concierge known as H. Gustav (Ralph Fiennes), who is the heart and soul of his establishment, a monumental pink palace perched on top of a mountain range. The will of an 84-year-old widower (Tilda Swinton) becomes central to the drive of the film, as Gustav and her money-grubbing family farcically contest for the will’s contents.
Soon after she departs we are introduced to Gustav’s No.2, a lobby boy called Zero Mustafa (Tony Revolori), whom Gustav schools of the do’s and don’ts of the hotel, not at the least leaving out how the concierge becomes involved in the sex lives of his weathered guests.
When you’re young, it’s all fillet steak, but as you get older, you have to move on to the cheaper cuts.
– H. Gustav (Ralph Fiennes)
It is quite rare to see sex and nudity to play a bigger part in a Wes Anderson film, yet it is so startlingly funny to catch the brief shot of Ralph Fiennes being orally serviced by a guest. Another surprise is Fiennes himself starring in an Anderson film, but it redoubles the joy of his performance which just adds to the humour. An underestimate comic actor, his prissy behaviour, his bursts of swearing and ridiculous fussiness are executed with superb timing and skill.
The supporting cast is a smorgasbord of star actors and typical players in a Wes Anderson flick – Adrian Brody being a bratty son, to Jeff Goldblum as the stern family attorney and Edward Norton as the apologetic police detective called Henckels. Perhaps best of all is Willem Dafoe’s leather clad, loyal henchman with knuckle dusters, missing teeth and looks worse for wear at an Eastern European night bar.
The timing, execution and detail of Fiennes humour is one of multiple high points of the film, which could no doubt see him listed on the awards list in the near future.