Wes Anderson does it again – only better. Once again we have a fairy-story for adults, which skirts close to reality, but is not bound by it, and operates more within meticulously designed theatrical sets than within the usual cinematographical conventions.
The Grand Budapest Hotel is the Platonic ideal of the flamboyant mountain retreat for the privileged. Here reality can for a time be escaped. M Gustav (Ralph Fiennes) will see to that.
The time is the thirties, and albeit in a cartoonish yet sinister way the dark clouds of totalitarianism impinge on M Gustav and his hotel.
One of the wealthy lonely old ladies who discreetly rely on M Gustav's less advertised services dies, and M Gustav is the beneficiary in her will, to the extent of a very valuable painting. Her psychotic and paranoid children are determined to wreak havoc on M Gustav, and there follows a perverse flight and pursuit, as Gustav and his bell-boy Zero struggle to stay one step ahead of their doom.
Fiennes is truly wondrous as Gustav – always calm and in control in the midst of ever more bizarre anarchy.
Realistic this film is not. Nor does it need to be. Intricately crafted, it could be seen again and again, and always yield more invention and more detail.
Like a magical mystery tour it sweeps all before it.