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The Grand Budapest Hotel - Film Review

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by Fiona Anderson (subscribe)
A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published April 23rd 2014
A Quirky Story of a Friendship, Greed, Love and War
I greatly enjoyed this funny, rather quirky movie, which features a top cast led by Ralph Fiennes.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is set in the fictional European country of Zubrowka between the wars. The story unfolds as it is told to a guest in the hotel - an author - by the owner of the hotel. Over the course of the movie, we learn how the man relating the story came to own the hotel.

Grand Budapest Hotel
The Grand Budapest Hotel (image from the Grand Budapest Hotel Facebook page)

The central character is Gustave H (Fiennes), who is a concierge at the famous Grand Budapest in its heyday. The hotel employs Zero Moustafa (played by previously unknown actor Tony Revolori) as a lobby boy, and Gustave H soon takes him under his wing. Gustave H starts to 'train' Zero in his not entirely conventional ways of providing 'service' to hotel guests. These 'unconventional' ways include keeping the older women guests happy in any way he can.

Ralph Fiennes, Grand Budapest Hotel
Ralph Fiennes heads a strong cast (image from the Grand Budapest Hotel Facebook page)

It is through a friendship with one of these women, Madam D (Tilda Swinton), formed over many years ('she was dynamite in the sack'), that he comes to inherit a valuable painting, 'Boy with Apple'. His inheritance is hotly contested by members of Madam D's family. Supported by Zero, Gustave H 'takes possession' of the painting and hides it in the hotel.

The jealous family then frames Gustave H for the murder of Madam D, resulting in him being jailed. This sets up the opportunity for a jailbreak, and a subsequent shootout and classic 'goody versus villain' chase in James Bond-esque style, all done in a rather light-hearted, somewhat farcical way.

What works well in this film is the relationship between Gustave H and Zero. Gustave H is as flamboyant and outrageous as Zero is understated and grounded; their characters provide balance for one another.

Zero
Tony Revolori plays Zero (image from the Grand Budapest Hotel Facebook page)

Also in the cast, you'll see William Dafoe, Jeff Goldblum, Bill Murray and Harvey Keitel.

The film is written and directed by Wes Anderson, so if you're a fan of Anderson's films (and even if you're not!) you'll probably enjoy this one. Definitely worth a watch. Four stars from me.

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Why? To escape into a slightly quirky story, with a few laughs and some great acting
When: On now
Where: Playing in various cinemas
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